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Walk this way: How a pedometer can kick-start your exercise regimen

No matter how aware you are that it’s time to start exercising, or to resume a fitness program that’s fallen by the wayside, it’s never easy. A quick way to break that inertia, however, may fit in the palm of your hand.

By clipping a pedometer to your waist or lapel, you can quickly and easily monitor how many steps you’re taking every day, and use that information to build a walking program. And let’s face it; going for a walk sounds a lot easier than going to the gym!

Pedometers come in many levels, from a basic $5 model all the way up to one with lots of extra gadgetry (MP3 player, calorie counter, etc.) that can set you back $100 or more. Many models run between $20 and $30, though, so it’s not a purchase that’ll break the bank.

Once you’ve gotten one, the next step should be planning how much you want to walk. While studies show that people should walk at least 5,000 steps a day, and preferably 9,000 or more, this is where you can really set your own pace — in every sense of the word. Here’s a breakdown of steps:

  • 2,000 steps = 1 mile
  • 3,000 steps = a half mile
  • 4,000 steps = 2 miles
  • 10,000 steps = 5 miles

But keep in mind those are general figures. If you want to get an accurate measure, go to a track where it’s marked how many laps you need to have walked a mile. Set your pedometer at zero, and when you’ve gone around enough times for a mile, set your “steps per mile” baseline to reflect that. Then you’ll know exactly how many steps it takes you to log a mile.

Some people wear their pedometer all day, every day, while others just wear it when they head out for a walk. There’s no set rule of thumb. The goal here is to get you up and moving, and a pedometer is a fun, easy way to see how well you’re doing as you work towards a healthier, more mobile lifestyle.

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