Ask the Personal Trainer: Should I Count Steps?

A pedometer can help you track your activity and motivate you to become more active
TrainerAsk Personal Trainer

Q: I've heard that I should use a pedometer to count my steps each day, and to try to go for 10,000 per day to keep fit. Have you ever heard of this, and do you think 10,000 steps a day would help maintain a good level of fitness? I'm kind of curious as to how many steps I cover in a day and am thinking about buying a pedometer.

A: I've been hearing quite a bit about pedometers over the past couple of years. I think the key benefit is that it allows you to track your leisure time activity, independent of structured exercise.

Like you, most people have no idea how many steps per day they're taking. So a device like this would be helpful for establishing an activity baseline. For example, if you're currently taking an average of 4,000 steps per day and not losing weight, the pedometer could help motivate you to become more active.

The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health recommends 30 minutes per day of accumulated physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. Unfortunately, about half of all Americans do not meet these guidelines. About a third of the population is completely inactive. So I support anything that gets people off the couch or out from behind their desks.

Ten thousand steps per day might be a bit much for most people starting out, but it is certainly a viable goal. Go ahead and try a pedometer if you like. I suggest a gradual increase of about 5 to 10 percent per week, until you reach your goal.

In this Q&A series, William Sukala, MS, CSCS, answers questions about fitness and exercise. Read more articles from our personal trainer.

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