• Wed, Jan 23 2013

Atlantic Writer Learns Power Of Walking For Weight Loss With Help From $130 Gadget

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Over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal used some fitness tracking gadgets and learned that…walking is good and that he probably doesn’t do it enough. Kind of obvious, but his realization is one that I wish more Americans would experience.

Madrigal used the FitBit One and the Jawbone Up to track the number of steps he took each day, aiming for about 10,000 (which is apparently about how much people in both Australia and Switzerland walk each day, but much higher than the average number of steps an American takes, which is about 5,000). Because he’s a runner, he thought he’d have no problem getting to the goal. A three and a half mile run only netted him about 5, 227 steps for the day, though, after he went back to working his sedentary job. He writes:

But here’s the thing, if you sit all day (in a car, at work, on the couch), but head out for a quick 3.5-mile run, you’re not actually getting much activity in.

Madrigal says that the experience of using the fitness tracking devices illuminated how he: “overestimate[s] the value of my official “workouts” and underestimate{s] the value of walking as a means to an end. ” He quotes a new study from Yale that references how little people actually walk as a means of transportation, despite the fact that people that do have lower BMIs, smaller waists, and lower risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Although his conclusions are a little bit well, DUH, I still think there’s a lesson in here for our car dependent, increasingly sedentary American society. We need to walk more. We need to walk more for our health as individuals and for our health as a society. It’s that simple. It’s sad that we need articles like these, where a writer uses an expensive gadget to learn something that’s quite evident. Madrigal seems to be aware of the painful obviousness of his epiphany, though, when he says:

Assuming my food intake remains roughly the same (which is a big assumption), walking is almost certainly the deciding factor in losing, gaining, or maintaining weight. So, I love the data my fitness tracker provides, but if you want to skip the $130 purchase, I think I’ve gleaned the real lesson that matters: when you have the opportunity to walk as a means to an end, take it.
In the end, it’s good advice. If you’re looking for ways to walk more (even if you’re car dependent and work a sedentary job), we have a few suggestions for you. 
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