It’s so hard to just get moving, isn’t it?

Last night after a very long day at drill, I went home and literally just laid on my couch until it was time to brush my teeth and move to my bed. I have found as life gets busier and busier, and I get older, I tend to do more lounging around and less moving.

This decreased movement is no good. It increases weight, decreases flexibility and contributes to the overwhelming obesity problem of our nation. As much as eating healthy and cooking at home contribute to overall weight and health, exercise plays an important role as well.

According to a review of research conducted by Warburton in 2006, the more number of hours of physical activity in a week the less likely people will develop dementia, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colon cancer and hip fractures (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402378). Even more compelling though is the research that links increased sitting time with earlier deaths (Katzmarzyk et al, Med Sci Sport Exer 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19346988).

Finally, not exercising is expensive. Health claims increase as activity levels decrease. Inactive people spend $1543 more a year than active people (in 1997). Think about it like this: for every hour of brisk walking, you could be saving yourself up to $12 in health care claims (Anderson et al, Pre Chron Dis 2005). You are saving money by exercising(www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2005/oct/04_0118.htm).

Let’s get moving. If you need a little push, I recommend a step tracking device.

We’ve all seen Fitbits or some other tracking device tied to the wrists of our friends and colleagues. We’ve seen how these people tap their wrist, obsess about steps and smile with pure joy when they reach their goals. For those of you that don’t know, when one meets their daily steps goal, there is a little vibration on the wrist.

For me, wearing a tracking device increases my awareness of how much moving I am doing. As the day goes on, I find myself intentionally moving more as a way to meet my goal. Sometimes, I have “competitions” with my mom (who, by the way, always wins). And that little wrist vibration when I hit 10,000 steps: it’s actually amazing and makes me smile Every. Single. Time. I wasn’t wearing my Fitbit yesterday when I collapsed on the couch. But if I had been, I might have been more inclined to take a walk.

The recommended goal for steps each day is 10,000. If you are just starting out, gradually increase until you reach that goal.

What is so magic about 10,000 steps anyway? Here are the four reasons I find most compelling:

1. It’s approximately 5 miles

In order to read 10,000 steps, I have found that I usually need to include 30 minutes of daily exercise, which is actually what the CDC recommends anyway (https://www.cdc.gov/features/getting-your-steps-in/).

2. You’ll lose weight (I promise)

Hitting 10,000 steps burns 2000 to 3500 extra calories each week. One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories, which means you could lose one pound a week if you don’t increase your eating. Remember, while walking is important for overall health, weight loss is mostly accomplished through diet. (www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/weight-loss/faq-20058292).

3. If you are outside, you’ll get some Vitamin D

In Wyoming, we are all Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is critical to help us keep strong bones, fight disease and fight depression. (www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-vitamin-d)

4. You could reduce stroke risk by more than 20 percent

According to the Harvard School of Public Health (www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Walking-Your-steps-to-health), 10,000 steps reduces not only stroke risk but also lowers the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, colon cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and early death.

OK, enough talk. Now, get moving.

Amy Surdam, FNP, has served in the WYARNG as a provider for the last 15 years and is an owner of Stitches Acute Care Center with her husband, Dan Surdam, MD. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, fitness and creating a better tomorrow.

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