NAP Challenge #2: Smart Start! Add UP or Step UP
Increasing your activity level either by walking for more minutes or taking more steps will make a huge difference in your health now and in the long run. To do this safely, you need to know where to start. This first activity challenge challenges you to gain an understanding of your current level of physical activity and then add to it, safely.
- Adding UP Minutes: Beginning with my baseline activity – average number of minutes that I walk each day – I will slowly begin to increase my activity. By the end of the week I will aim to increase my daily time by at least 10%. Or
- Stepping On UP: Beginning with my baseline activity – average number of steps that I walk each day using my pedometer – I will slowly begin to increase those steps. By the end of the week I will aim to increase my steps by 10%.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to keep track of your progress using the AICR calendar, the food/activity form or your own notebook. Write down the total number of minutes or steps you took at the end of each day. If you did any formal exercise or anything that required a lot more walking than usual (e.g. a garden tour), make note of that, too.
This week’s challenge focuses on getting you started on incorporating walking into your lifestyle safely – by learning where to start and how to increase your activity incrementally.
Weight maintenance is a matter of energy balance. You need to balance the number of calories you consume (i.e. eat) with the number of calories you burn. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Physical activity, such as walking, helps increase the number of calories you burn in a day. When coupled with weight reduction diet efforts, physical activity helps you reduce excess body fat, excess abdominal fat and prevent weight gain. Excess fat, excess abdominal fat and weight gain are all associated with postmenopausal breast cancer, the most commonly occurring type of cancer in women; excess body fat and excess abdominal fat are associated with colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the US today. Most importantly every step you take makes you feel, look and think better.
Physical activity includes both formal exercise (a treadmill workout, a brisk outdoor walk) AND informal exercise (walking through the grocery store, cleaning your home). If you don’t enjoy formal exercise sessions, don’t worry. You can still increase your physical activity through everyday activities. Just put on your comfortable walking shoes, and MOVE!
Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?
That 2000 steps equals about 1 mile for the average weight person.
For those "Adding UP Minutes": Take the average number of minutes you walked daily during the first week (including time spent doing everyday activities) and increase it by at least 10%. Let’s say you now average 20 minutes daily. Your goal, by the end of the week, is to walk at least 22 minutes daily. Continue this pattern of adding 10% more minutes each week until you reach your ultimate "Adding UP Minutes" goal of 60 minutes most days (at least five days a week) to continue losing weight and to maintain your hard earned weight loss. Come on! Every minute adds UP for a big difference! Let’s get MOVING!
For those "Stepping On UP": Take the total number of steps you walked during the first week (including time spent doing everyday activities) and increase it by at least 10%. People who are sedentary walk fewer than 5000 steps per day. Let’s say you are now stepping about 4,000 steps daily. By the end of the week your goal is to be stepping at least 4,400 steps daily. Continue adding 10% or at least 400-500 steps each week until you reach your ultimate "Stepping on UP" goal of 12,000 steps per day to continue to lose weight and 10,000 steps per day to maintain weight. Come on! Small steps add UP for a big difference! Let’s get STEPPING!
- Buy good-quality walking shoes. Good shoes are important to help prevent injury. Before you start adding minutes/steps to your walking program, get fit for walking shoes that are right for your feet. Look for a store that specializes in walking shoes and work with someone to help you. Remember: good shoes do not have to be expensive.
- Schedule time for activity into your day. Physical activity is not self indulgent, it’s essential for your optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. Plan it into your day just like you would other important engagements (e.g. doctor’s appointments, work meetings).
- Meet someone for your walk. Walking with a relative, friend or neighbor makes you “accountable” to each other, so you are more likely to be faithful to your walking plan.
- Find a furry companion. Walking with a pet can be enjoyable way for both of you to stay in shape. If you don’t have a pet, you can volunteer at the local humane society as a dog-walker (you get the walking without the responsibilities of dog ownership).
- Turn up the volume. Listening to music, audio books, or pod-casts can help to keep you entertained during your walk. If you walk alone and wear ear buds, be sure to stay in a safe, well-lit public place.
- Make every minute count. Sneak in a walk anytime you have a moment: before work, at break time, after dinner, etc. Take advantage of every opportunity to include physical activity into your day; every minute/step makes a difference.
If you’re Adding UP Minutes:
- Wear a watch with a timer all day. Put it on when you wake up. Start the timer every time you walk during the day.
- Reset your timer each morning.
If you’re Stepping On UP:
- Wear your pedometer all day. Put it on when you wake up and take it off before you go to bed. Only take it off if you plan to get wet (e.g. in the shower or pool).
- Reset your pedometer each morning.
- AICR Recommendation: Be physically active for at least 30 minutes everyday.
- Online AICR brochures:
- Additional online resources:
Published on July 17, 2012