There are many benefits to wearable devices, and they have become quite popular over the years. Along with step counts, they are also showcasing many metrics such as heart rate, movement, and calories burned and some even go as in-depth as providing sleep data, blood oxygen levels, and ECG. This is all great information to have, and many studies have been done on their accuracy. You can read a few here! All state that they are mostly accurate regarding step count, energy expenditure, and sleep – but improvements need to be made consistently which is why they are constantly coming out with new models!
NCBI - Evaluating the Validity of Current Mainstream Wearable Devices in Fitness Tracking Under Various Physical Activities: Comparative Study
NCBI - Reliability and Validity of Commercially Available Wearable Devices for Measuring Steps, Energy Expenditure, and Heart Rate: Systematic Review
Regardless of what you’re measuring, how important are these metrics? Do we really need to walk 10,000 steps a day to be healthy? What should we be focusing on? Do you find yourself beating yourself up when you don’t close all of your rings? Sometimes these wearables can give us a false sense of what it is to be healthy – and we end up beating ourselves up if we didn’t make our step count, close our rings, or burn “x” amount of calories per day.
So, here’s the deal. We are huge advocates of MOVING YOUR BODY. This can be ANYTHING – Yoga, Pilates, running, dancing, swimming, strength training etc. A lot of these forms of movement don’t give you “steps” which can give us a false sense of being active that day. Now, we also want to mention that we are advocates for moving your body all day long. You can do that workout which is great – but then if you sit the rest of the day your body suffers. So, it’s important to not only do purposeful exercise (even if it’s ten minutes!) AND move your body throughout the day such as taking the stairs, getting up every hour, parking far away or walking to a destination instead of driving.
So how many steps should we be taking? If you have a wearable device we suggest just gaining an understanding of your baseline. Where are you at right now? 2,000 steps or 12,000 steps? The CDC states that most people walk an average of 3,000 – 4,000 steps a day (1.5 miles – 2 miles) but they recommend between 7,500 and 10,000 steps (roughly 4-5 miles) including exercise. They also recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity on most days. This equates to roughly 30 minutes, 5 days a week. So, take that baseline movement, and add in more movement to your day – and we think that’s pretty successful regardless if that’s 10,000 steps or not!
So, what do I do?
Wherever you are, see how it fits into your day. Do you feel like you’re struggling to get that many steps? Or do you feel it’s fairly easy and you could easily fit in more? Think about how you can get more movement into your day which can increase your step count. It’s easier than you think – you just have to be mindful of it and consistent. CONSISTENCY IS KEY!
Here are a few simple behaviors to add to your day to get more movement (and steps!):
· Take the stairs
· Park far away
· Walk to your co-workers’ desk instead of messaging or calling them
· Walk around during a call instead of sitting
· Have a walking meeting
Don’t beat yourself up
If you don’t close all your rings, you walked 8,500 steps instead of 10,000 and you did Pilates that day – IT’S A GOOD DAY! Don’t beat yourself up and try to impress your watch. This can give you a negative relationship with your wearable and create stress around movement, which is the opposite of what we want to do! Use your wearable as a baseline to give you a broad understanding of your activity level that day. If you feel good, focus on that instead of not hitting that 10,000-step count. Think about where you can move more throughout your day and just try and do your best. We’re not saying don’t strive for it, but there’s so much more to focus on as well. Let your wearable motivate you in a healthy way!