Step it up? In the battle of fitness trackers, the most steps might not win | TribLIVE.com
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Step it up? In the battle of fitness trackers, the most steps might not win

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A recent Harvard University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that among older women, as few as 4,400 steps per day helped to lower mortality rates.
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There may be no real “magic number” of steps per day.
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No matter how many steps you take, merely wearing and using a fitness tracker — particularly for older women, older men and other people who tend to be somewhat inactive — “can be beneficial not only to your health but to your quality of life,” says I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Many benefits

Studies show that 150 minutes a week of moderate activity, such as walking, can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve sleep, help reduce weight gain and improve bone health.

Perhaps no one knows that better than Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist who has regularly appeared on “Good Morning America” as a fitness coach.

He also has worked as a personal trainer with thousands of clients — many of whom use step trackers. He’s a huge fan of fitness trackers because they get people moving.

“The fitness tracker is the first step to getting people off the couch,” he said. At the same time, he is put off by the much-ballyhooed 10,000-step daily goal, which he said is arbitrary.

“We need real numbers to shoot for,” he said. Holland, who recently turned 50, prefers recommending smaller amounts of exercise — not big feats such as 10,000 steps. “I’m a big believer in excessive moderation. Don’t do a lot a little bit — do a little bit a lot.”

Check his device

Unless, of course, it involves himself. Like the 70,000, or so, steps he clocked in a recent 50-kilometer trail run. Because Holland also is a triathlete, he not only uses a Fitbit from time to time but also sometimes slaps on “smart” sunglasses or T-shirts or shorts that track fitness data. Most often, however, he wears a Garmin fitness tracker that measures his steps, his sleeping habits and his heart rate.

“I’m not an addict,” he said jokingly, “but if you see me passed out on the side of the road, check my tracker, please.”

As for Anderson’s little dog, Bronx, he sometimes gets extra incentive to go on those walks.

Occasionally, Anderson brings along her daughter’s English bulldog, Winston, whose namesake is the British statesman Winston Churchill.

Perhaps, in a cosmic nod to future step trackers of all kinds, it was Churchill who said it best: “I never worry about action, but only inaction.”

Categories: News | Health Now
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