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Steps To Success

I recently heard someone complain that, although she was hitting 10,000 steps a day on her fitness tracker, she wasn’t losing as much weight as she wanted. She’s not alone. Many people are under the misconception that 10,000 steps is the magic number for weight loss. And while it’s true that fitness trackers offer a certain level of accountability and awareness, there are other “steps” you have to take to reach your weight loss goals.

According to experts, the 10,000 steps concept came from the name of a Japanese pedometer developed in the 1960s--- “The 10,000 Step Meter.” It is not the result of years of numerical research, nor is it a weight loss guarantee. So while 10,000 can serve as a strong motivator to keep moving, it’s important not to get too hung up on the number for several reasons.

First, you have to remember that not all steps are created equal. For example, someone who hits 10,000 steps by leisurely walking throughout the day is going to burn calories, but probably not as many as the person who hit it by going for a 5 mile run first thing in the morning. The runner not only met the steps, he got his heart rate up, and unless he goes back to bed he will continue to move and burn calories for several more hours.

Second, just because you aren’t meeting steps doesn’t mean you aren’t meeting goals. If you are weight training, swimming, rowing, or even cycling, depending on your tracker, those activities may not count towards your total steps because your foot isn’t striking the ground. But you are still getting your heart rate up, adding muscle, and burning calories—which is the recipe for weight loss success.

And speaking of calories----just like steps, calories are not created equal either. If your goal is 1500-1800 calories per day, are you getting them by eating plenty of protein, fruits, and veggies, or do you blow them all on burgers, fries, and sugary sodas or coffee drinks? Most trackers will show you how many calories you are burning, but there is no tracker that can slap unhealthy foods out of your hands. That’s where an app like My Fitness Pal can come in handy because you can more accurately track calories in versus calories out, as well as the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbs you are consuming.

So should you ditch you tracker or stop counting steps? Not at all! Any movement throughout the day is better than no movement at all, and aiming for 10,000 steps per day is a good goal. But don’t get so caught up in the number that you walk around your living room in circles just to meet it before the end of the day (yes, I know someone who does this). Use it as part of a healthy, active lifestyle and you stand a better chance of reaching your goals—one step at a time.