What does your step count say about your health and fitness?

Everyone around me seems to own a Fitbit, even some of my clients, but I never really considered getting one even though I was quite curious about them.

About a week ago I was gifted a Fitbit by a friend and I assumed that I would track a high number of steps in a typical day. I am on the go a fair bit, as my job as a mobile personal trainer entails me being on my feet to train my clients and I walk my dog every day. Over and above that I am quite active at home and also do resistance training three times per week.

So I was very curious to see my step count after the first couple of days donning the device and was shocked to find out that actually my step count was NOT that high compared to some of my friends. So does that make me unfit?

I used to be a flight attendant over 15 years ago and I am certain, that if I had worn a Fitbit in those days my step count would have been massive from walking up and down the cabin on long haul flights. But does that mean that I was healthier and fitter in those days? Well no, because the job involved working abnormal hours and crossing time zones as well as being exposed to all the viruses that were been passed through the passenger cabin. So, I might have moved my body all day, but spent a lot of time in high heels that caused me posture problems and I was often tired from working long unsociable hours.

There is so much emphasis these days on movement, because we know now how detrimental sitting is to our health. But, does movement mean walking or just holding ourselves upright? When I performed my resistance workouts I noticed that my step count hardly changed, as I was mostly in one spot doing body weight exercises or using weights.With weight training and Yoga for instance, you are very definitely moving your body but not in a stepping way.

Another important point is that two people could do an identical number of steps per day, but one of them could be walking uphill or running, so the step number is the same but the intensity is different. Intensity, or how hard your push yourself and the effect on the heart rate is very important. We know that HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) has become popular due to the fact that you could get a really short and intense workout in a short period of time.Challenging our hearts and muscles to work harder is crucial.

So what does this all mean? The advice I give my clients is to move  more and to spend less time sitting. Over and above that, consuming a balanced and healthy diet generated from eating a variety of different foods is an important part of the equation. But above all, getting plenty of sleep, because walking 20,000 steps a day and not getting enough quality sleep is not going to generate you great wellness. Health and fitness is not just about one thing, but a variety of components that must be all there for the body to function effectively. Saying all that, for people that are inactive the Fitbit is an awesome tool to measure how much time they are out of a seated position.

Rachel Marks is a Personal Trainer and NLP Practitioner and operates her business All Active.

Posted 25th June 2017

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