You can walk your way to fitness with the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer, a good pair of walking shoes and at least 30 minutes a day. No fancy exercise equipment and no expensive fitness gym fees, just what God has given you. I am a firm believer that the simple act of getting outdoors, breathing the fresh air, and seeing and experiencing my surroundings is innately enjoyable.
Is Walking Right For You?
We are meant to walk. We stand upright and have two arms and legs. All of us can walk without any training. With that said, walking may be the single most important and also the easiest exercise you can do to improve your health.
I really believe that most people need to move more. Only 30 percent of people between the ages of 45 to 64 engage in any type of regular physical activity. This drops to 25 percent for adults between the ages of 65 to 74. This is from a study from the National Institute on Aging. I have no numbers for those under the age of 45, but I am sure it is alarmingly low.
I know, I do many different types of exercising each week from jumping rope, weight machine, free weights, stair climber, recumbent exercise bike and so on. Even with all of that, I still like to just walk. I find that it clears my mind and helps me focus much better at work if I take a 20 to30 minute walk at lunch. When I need to focus better at home, a good walk or just 15 to 30 minutes walking on the treadmill does the trick.
Anyone can walk. Get your family out walking with you. Take a walk with your spouse and children. They will love the time with you.
George Trevelyan, a British author, wrote about the health benefits of walking. He wrote, “I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg”.
The Benefits of Regular Walking
Research has shown that regular walking can cut the risk of heart disease, help your aging brain against dementia and memory loss and can reduce by 60 percent the chance of developing type 2 diabetes in high risk adults. This isn’t even taking into account the benefit of the calories burned walking.
This doesn’t mean marathon walking either. These benefits come from just walking for 30 minutes several times a week. You don’t even have to walk 30 minutes at one time. Divide it up into three 10 minute walks, two 15 minute walks or whatever is convenient for you.
What Do You Need?
You will need a good pair of walking shoes, a good place to walk and I recommend using a pedometer. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions if you are walking outside.
I have been using the Omron pedometer, model HJ-112. This is the best I have found in the $20 to $30 price range.
For walking shoes, I am using the New Balance MW646, and my wife has been using the New Balance WW646. I have devoted a separate article to the benefits of a good pair of walking shoes.
Check online and find what is best for you that fit into your budget.
Where is the Best Place to Walk
Some people like to do their walking on a treadmill either at home or at their local fitness gym. There is something to be said for this approach. You don’t have to worry about the weather and you can watch TV while you walk (Sci-Fi shows, of course). I admit that sometimes in the winter I prefer my treadmill instead of knee deep snow. However, if given a choice, I would rather do my walking outside.
If you live close to a shopping mall, this is another great place to walk. Again, no weather worries. Most malls open their doors early before the stores open which is perfect for walking without dodging shoppers. I personally haven’t tried this but I see people all of the time walking in our local indoor mall. I am sure that someday I will be one of those mall walkers.
Walking outside is my favorite. In your own neighborhood or in a local park, you can enjoy nature in its fullest. But there are a few things to consider. When walking on public or subdivision streets, always walk defensively. In today’s world with cell phones, people tend to be too busy with their phone to see and register pedestrians.
How Can I be Safe While Walking Outdoors?
These are all common sense rules, but here are a few that I can think of for safety’s sake;
- Plan your walking route. Always know where you are and where you are going.
- Carry some form of identification and your cell phone if you have one.
- Use a sidewalk if one is available. If not, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic. You always need to see the traffic coming toward you.
- If wearing a stereo headset, remember that it will reduce hearing traffic, bicyclists, dogs, or even the approach of a stranger.
- Dogs can sometimes be a problem. If approached by a threatening dog, try to stay calm and don’t show fear. Sometimes just saying “no” or “go home” in a low, firm voice will work. Back away slowly if necessary. If it attacks, scream for help and fight back with any weapon you can grab. I carry a walking stick just for that reason. Report this incident to the police or animal control because people should watch and control their dogs.
- Make yourself visible at night and especially at dusk or dawn. Wear retro-reflective materials. Wear shoes and apparel with reflective fabrics, logos and trim. Make sure and have reflective material all the way around. It helps to put reflective material on your moving parts. Carry a flashlight. Make sure you can be seen for safety’s sake.
How To Start
As always, be sure to consult your doctor first before you start any exercise program, especially if you have been inactive or you are increasing your activity level.
Be sure to warm up and stretch before and stretch and cool down after any exercise program to avoid injuries.
In the beginning, always bite off less than you can chew. Say what? Yes, bite off less I say. By that I mean taking it easy at first ensures that you will feel good after your walk and not exhausted. One thing you don’t want is pain. Pain is definitely not positive reinforcing. In other words, if something hurts, you probably won’t continue to do it.
So, don’t set a large goal at first. Start out with just one block. Increase slowly each week. Never add on more than 10 to 20 percent to the total miles (or minutes) (or steps) each week. If possible, walk at least 5 days a week. Walking every day is best.
One good method to determine your progress is to measure your steps. That is where the Pedometer becomes a powerful tool.
Your Omron HJ-112 Pedometer and Walking
Less than 5,000 steps per day = Sedentary or Inactive.
5,000 to 7,499 steps per day = Low Active Lifestyle.
7,500 to 9,999 steps per day = Somewhat Active Lifestyle.
10,000 or more steps per day = Active.
When I first got my Omron HJ-112 Pedometer, I did what everyone should do and just wore it for a week following my normal activities. The goal was to find out what my average number of steps is for one day. I removed it during my exercising programs so as not to include my rope jumping or recumbent exercise bike to my number of steps.
After the first day, I only had approximately 1,800 steps. A corpse probably moves more during the day than me. That is the problem with having a desk job and driving everywhere you go. I did pick up the pace for the rest of the first week and brought my average up to around 3,800 steps per day, still in the sedentary range. I did this by just parking farther from the door, getting up and walking more during the day and walking a little at lunch.
Using the week one results as a baseline, my goal now was to increase my number of steps per day by 20% each week until I averaged 10,000 steps per day. I took my time and I finally did reach my goal. You don’t have to get out and walk for an hour or more at one time. Divide your walks up by doing several 10 or 15 minute walks to add on your 20% each week.
I actually feel better, and the fun part is that I am trying to beat my own personal record from the previous day! This has been an eye-opening experience for me, and I keep this on or in my pocket all the time now, just to make sure I keep a mindful eye on my steps and aerobic activity for the day!
My Personal Experience with the Omron HJ-112 Pedometer
I have looked at many pedometer reviews and I have found that the Omron Hj-112 pedometer is very reasonably priced and is available on- line or at stores like Walgreens. Features included are number of steps, number of aerobic steps with minutes, calories burned walking with the amount of fat burned and distance.
It also stores up to seven days of data so you can record your progress. The current day is automatically stored in memory when the time reaches 12:00am. The display will then return to 0 for the new day. You don’t have to remember to push a button everyday to reset.
Be sure to follow the instructions for setting up the Omron pedometer. This is important to make sure you get the most accurate reading of your steps as possible. Setting your stride and the way you attach the Omron is very important to its accuracy.
I think the most important reading is the number of steps. This is what you want to monitor to achieve your goal of 10,000 steps per day. However, the aerobic step function is sometime to track, especially if you are trying to lose weight. To record aerobic steps on the Omron, you must walk more than 60 steps per minute and walk continuously for more than 10 minutes.
Try not to look at your pedometer every 5 minutes. I have noticed that sometimes it adds a few extra steps or doesn’t add enough steps, depending on how you are walking. However, in the long run at the end of the day, it seems to be pretty close.
It doesn’t record properly when you are jumping rope, riding a bike or working out on other types of machines. For that reason, I only make sure I am getting my 10,000 steps on days that I don’t do my regular exercise routine (Tues, Thur, Sat & Sun). I still record my steps on my exercise days (Mon, Wed & Fri) and make sure I get at least 8,000 steps along with my workout.
Ok, Let’s Sum This All Up
As I have said, walking may be the single most important and also the easiest exercise you can do to improve your health this year. Everyone needs to just move more and walking is the easiest way. Even if you don’t do any other kind of exercise, walk. Try to find a way to walk more every day. Park farther from the door when you go shopping. Take a walk on your lunch break. Take the grandkids to the zoo. Meet a friend and walk in the park or neighborhood. Take your children for a walk. Walk your dog. Walk.
Find ways to add extra steps into your day. You will be healthier, happier and you will feel better, guaranteed. Use your Omron Hj-112 pedometer to monitor your steps as you do and happy walking.