Step It Up!

Daily walking has been shown to reduce visceral adipose tissue (fat around the belly) and improve insulin sensitivity. The 10,000 steps is a concept begun in Japan more than 30 years ago and it’s now spreading across the United States as a target level for daily exercise. All you need to get started is a pedometer to track your steps. You can purchase a basic model at any sports store for less than $20. Clip it firmly to your belt or waistband and you’re ready to go.

Walking 10,000 steps is the approximate equivalent of walking five miles, though the distance covered depends on the length of your stride. If you don’t already walk this much on a regular basis, you will need to work up to this goal slowly to avoid injury. If you have any concerns about your joints (ankles, knees, or hips), discuss your exercise plans with your physician.

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Proper footwear is essential. You may want to use shoes with gel or air midsoles and wear polyester or blend (cotton–polyester) socks to prevent blisters and keep your feet dry.

Begin your program by establishing a baseline. Wear your pedometer and keep track of the number of steps you walk on a typical day. At the end of the first week, take the highest number of steps you have walked on any given day and use that number of steps as your initial daily step goal.

After you’re comfortable with your initial daily step goal, add 500 steps to it and make that your goal for the next week. Keep increasing until you reach your goal of 10,000 steps a day.

You may enjoy walking outside in nice weather, but a treadmill or mall-walking are good alternatives too.

Helpful information on the 10,000 steps is available on the following Web site:

www.thewalkingsite.com
Maintained by a personal trainer and walking coach, this Web site provides information for people interested in starting a walking program. It features a 12-week beginner plan, links to walking clubs, information on types of treadmills, and more. Tips on how to increase your daily steps can be found at www.thewalkingsite.com/10000steps.html.