It’s common knowledge that you need to exercise to get results, but it's also important to get a solid amount of daily activity in. Many people lead sedentary lifestyles due to desk jobs, resulting in minimal activity apart from commuting and occasional office mobility. Now with working from home being more common, activity levels have decreased even more for those who do work from home. I wrote about this some time ago (You NEED to Move More if You Have a Sedentary Job) and still believe daily activity is very important. Not only is it healthier to get more daily activity in, but it will also allow you to achieve your fitness results.
What does increasing daily activity mean?
Increase your steps. This is the most convenient way to increase our activity and why we have step counters in our watches and fitness trackers. Going for a walk, doing more physical chores, or climbing random stairs 10 minutes a day (which is great cardio actually), are all ways to increase your steps. However you choose to get it done, increasing your step count is a realistic and convenient way to bring up your activity.
Does this really make a difference in my results? How much?
By results, I’m referring to weight or body fat loss. 5,000 steps will burn between 150-300 calories in a day. If this is added in every day (which is realistic if it's low-intensity activity), that’s 1000-2000 calories a week or .25 to .50 lbs. a week assuming these calories are not consumed to make up the difference. Now this may not sound like much, but it allows you to achieve the goal of 1lb of weight (or body fat) loss much easier by only having to make up the rest through exercise and nutrition. You can get more aggressive and aim for 1-2 lbs. a week, especially for a larger person, but this would likely come from additional exercise and larger improvements in your nutrition.
This daily activity is a separate category from exercise
Getting an adequate amount of activity each day is necessary for general health with experts suggesting 8,000. Let’s use the old 10,000 steps a day goal since we are after results and it’s a nice round number.
Steps will vary depending on the type of exercise we do. 45 minutes of weight training will get much less than the same time spent running. Take for example a common gym workout of 40 minutes of resistance training (~4000 steps), then 20 minutes of cardio (~4,000 steps) will roughly amount to 8,000 steps. So if we get 10,000 steps through our daily activity, then add in 8,000 exercise steps, that’s 18,000 for a workout day! Sounds like a lot? Well, it kind of is, but it's often needed to achieve a weight/body fat loss goal.
Step goals will vary by person
For someone who finds walking easy, getting extra steps (that is not from exercise) is considered a daily activity. For others, walking may be their main form of exercise if running, cardio machines, or playing sports is not an option. In this case, the total number of steps a day will be lower since getting a high number of steps each day may be challenging due to injury or physical ability. The idea is the same in this situation, be more active during the day and go for longer walks for exercise. It may be a good idea to add in some stationary bike work for some light activity or exercise. Of course, a bike workout won’t show up on your step counter, but the activity still counts.
Sedentary vs. Active
A work-from-home, sedentary person who barely leaves the house (or maybe not at all) may get as little as 2000 steps in a day. Getting a walk (or other movement) once a day is a must. Even when these types of people work out regularly, results can be slow due to lack of daily activity.
Someone with an active job in the package delivery, retail, or service industry will likely get their steps in automatically. They typically only need to exercise a few times a week to get results and it’s not uncommon to get 25,000 steps in on a day they work out. There are days I reach this number of steps from a full day of training people, coaching kids, and running. I will certainly be tired at the end of the day, but nothing a good night's sleep can't solve.
The main idea here is to increase your steps every day. Take long walks and don’t count it as exercise if walking is considered easy and you have other options for exercise (running, hard cycling, cardio machines, sports). If your main form of exercise is walking, then set goals for longer walks or find another option for activity like a stationary bike. You will see results much faster than being sedentary all day even if you do get your weekly workouts in.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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