Researchers from the University of Tennessee asked overweight women to clip on pedometers to track their steps. They divided these women into two groups. One group was told to aim for 10,000 steps a day (the common recommendation considered to be "active"), while the second group was told simply to walk briskly for 30 minutes, most days of the week (a common--but minimum--fitness recommendation). The study found that the step counters averaged over 10,000 steps daily, while the minute counters averaged between 8,270 to 9,505 steps on the days the DID meet their 30-minute goals, and merely 5,597 steps on the days they didn't exercise for 30 minutes. The researchers conclude that setting your goals in steps (rather than minutes) may be the best way to increase your overall activity.
Action Sparked: If you're having a hard time getting into a regular fitness routine, using a pedometer may help motivate you. It's a simple way to track your progress, and you can easily continue to beat your past records (even if only by 5, 10, or 100 steps). Tracking your steps is another way to gauge your activity level--especially for the average deskbound worker. (People with active jobs, such as servers, may exceed 10,000 steps at work alone, but should still plan structured fitness activities.)
Exercise Extra: Walking less than 5,000 steps daily is considered sedentary, 5,000 to 9,999 is considered low to somewhat active, and 10,000 steps or more is active.