If you feel proud because you’ve increased your daily number of steps with the help of a wearable fitness tracker, then brace yourself for what I’m about to tell you. These devices, probably including the one you’re using, have amassed more bad press as of late than political candidates muck up against each other during an election campaign.
Spurred by two studies published in weeks of each other, one in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and the other in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the media has published numerous articles all saying basically the same thing. According to the studies, wearing fitness trackers may not encourage people to increase their level of activity enough to protect them from chronic disease and help them lose weight.
Surprising? Well, not really. You see, as a person who is trained in the Walk 15 method and follows other walking fitness programs, I know that to obtain weight loss and heart-healthy benefits from walking, you need to move at a fat burning pace. You need to raise your heart rate. When weight loss and healthy-heart benefits are your goals, taking a leisurely stroll is as helpful as trying to stay dry under an umbrella in an Orlando, Florida thunderstorm. It just won’t do.
Plus, the 10,000 steps number that you see is the minimum suggested amount of steps that people should strive to achieve daily. At best, it will keep your weight steady, but if you want to lose, you have to do more than that. This fact is especially true if you are already an active person. In addition, to lose weight, you’ll also need to combine exercise with healthy eating habits.
And yeah, that 10,000 number itself is really not all that precise. You see, it came about when a Japanese man, named Y. Hatano, introduced one of the first versions of the pedometer called the “manpo-kei.” The English translation is “10,000 steps meter.”
After reading all of this, you might be be ready to toss your wearable fitness in the exercise equipment graveyard, but hold on until you hear what else I have to say.
I still use a wearable fitness tracker because it has a purpose in my life.
Just as a scale helps measure my weight and a tape measure helps measure my inches, my wearable fitness tracker helps measure how much walking I do, and experts believe that walking consistently over a long period of time increases the production of dopamine, serotonin, and BDNF, an important growth hormone. In addition, it helps your immune system protect you against colds. Walking makes you happy and healthy.
Those are just a few of the benefits of walking, though. A 2014 Stanford University study revealed that people who walk are more creative in terms of coming up with fresh ideas and perspectives compared to trying to do so while sitting. According to the study, walking improved a person’s creative output by an average of 60%. What’s more, the benefits of walking lingers for a while even when the walkers sit down.
People intuitively know this. Throughout history, you can find the names of influencers of their time who are known for being avid walkers. Mozart, Jane Austen, Einstein, Keats, and Emily Dickinson are just a few examples. Influencers of our time such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have been known to have walking meetings and Steve Jobs was an avid walker in his own right.
I know how much better my mind functions when I walk, and I know that I walk much more when I have a measurement to jumpstart my activity. That measurement motivates me to move when I would normally continue to sit. The ability to measure my movement is why I am keeping my wearable fitness tracker in spite of the negative press it has been getting.
If striving to get the “right” numbers on your wearable fitness tracker motivates you to walk, thus helping your immune system, giving you joy, and making you more creative and productive, then I say it’s a keeper. Keep the movement going.
Originally published at medium.com