Integrate activity into daily life
What Canadians need is a new way of quantifying activity. To keep from getting bigger, we need to start thinking smaller. Instead of measuring our exercise efforts in minutes and kilometres, we need to break it down to individual steps.
Canadian non-profit organization ParticipACTION recommends taking at least 10,000 steps a day. Studies have found that’s the level at which you’re burning enough calories to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic disease.
Despite those convincing factors, the 10,000-step rule still has yet to be widely adopted. It could be because most people don’t wear pedometers, or because most of us have no clue what all those steps mean in everyday terms.
Here’s a baseline to consider: People living completely sedentary lives take about 2,000 steps a day; non-exercisers, on a typical day, take closer to 4,000 steps. Anything below 5,000 daily steps should be counted as sedentary.
Spend a couple of days wearing a pedometer and your perspective on exercise will change dramatically. It will make you more conscious of being active; your concept of exercise will evolve from something you do for a specific time at a certain place (in the morning at the gym, in the afternoon on the tennis court) to something you do all day, everywhere.
Experts now believe that a shift in focus from “working out” to “being active” is the key to getting fit and staying trim for life. In fact, researchers at the University of South Carolina estimate that women who are active 75 percent of the day (running errands, gardening, cooking and so on) expend about 10 percent more energy overall than those who visit the gym for an hour but are sedentary the rest of the day (usually because they’re sitting in front of a computer).
That’s right: A day of housework can trump an hour on the treadmill.