The latest fitness craze involves counting your daily steps. And, if you’re me, you’ll be doing everything from running two extra miles prior to spin class to pacing around your apartment as you fold laundry to reach that goal. I can’t help it, I just love crushing my mother in the weekly Fitbit challenges (#sorrynotsorry).
So, is your well intentioned step counting band actually making you (gasp!) gain weight?
Short answer: Probably not. But I am sorry to say, it might not be helping you reach your goal as much as you think.
10,000 steps a day seems to be the modern era cliche equivalent to that of an apple a day. It’s simple, right? Walk 10k steps and your health should be A-okay. Well, not exactly.
Heart Rate > 10,000 Steps
As The Wall Street Journal reported, “It’s also one reason many of these gadgets end up gathering dust. I have a hard time squeezing in thousands of steps between meetings and lunch over my keyboard. And for those who can do it, 10,000 hardly guarantees a Kardashian physique.”
Look at it this way, if you’re lifestyle doesn’t permit you to walk 10,000 steps a day (hello, fellow desk workers) then you’ll less likely to even use these trackers. It’s like you lost before you even started.
I had someone ridicule how someone couldn’t walk 10,000 steps a day. Personally, I’m usually only able walk about three miles a day at work and make up the rest at the gym on the treadmill. You do what you gotta do, but stepping isn’t the only physical activity to get your body in shape.
The coined 10,000 step rule and many fitness trackers ignore a vital health and weight loss key: heart rate levels. Lunges at your desk or push-ups during commercials of The Bachelor are all activities that don’t add steps, but do have health benefits
(possibly more than those measly steps).
Thus, to fix this, many people are turning to heart rate monitoring bands — including me. I’ve recently graduated from a Fitbit Flex to a Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker, so expect a product review in your future.
How to Use Your FitBit (the Right Way)
At the end of the day, a fitness tracker is ultimately just a guide. Don’t obsess over it like the Type A, Gretchen Rubin obliger in me loves to do sometimes. But I wouldn’t be quick to throw it out either! There are plenty of beneficial reasons to continue using your tracker to help reach your fitness and health goals. Start with these three tips:
- If 10k steps is easy then it’s up your game. 10,000 steps daily is recommended. However, for many runners, you finish this “recommended” amount before most of us are even out of bed. Challenge yourself a bit by adding more steps to your goal.
- Get accountability by challenging your family and friends with trackers. Hello competition. My mother is a teacher and constantly walks around all day attending to her little humans. While, on the other hand, I sit at a desk where the bathroom and everything else I could need is a couple hundred feet away at all times. Competing in weekly challenges forces me to get up and move throughout the day and find creative ways to get in more steps (like leaving your wallet in the car and having to run out to get it at lunch time). If you friends and family are non-movers, drop me a note and add me on Fitbit.
- Link FitBit (or whatever fitness tracker you own) with a calorie counting app. Steps and exercise is but a small piece of the puzzle. You could be sabotaging yourself by overeating due to increased exercise. Log your food and link your apps and your Fitbit will even reward you additional calories depending on how much you burn during your workout!
Do you have a fitness tracker (which one)? How do you use it to help reach your fitness goals? Do you find it helps or hinders your progress? How?