… after supper, walk a mile.
(I have no idea where this proverb came from … anyone??)
Thanks to all of your for your excellent feedback on my last post about clinical dietetics. I’m thrilled that so many of you out there have met with or know a registered dietitian (or that you ARE an RD!). I’m excited to join the RD ranks this upcoming summer!
Before I get into this post, I want to answer a question my friend Sandy asked in response to my last post. Sandy writes:
“What sector do you want to work in?”
Great question, Sandy! I have successfully avoided this question on THIH thus far, because answering the question “what do you want to do with your life?” is a lot harder than typing up my latest recipe or trying to fit a picture of my dog into every post. In truth, I’m not 100% sure which area of dietetics I enjoy the most. As you may have gathered from my last post, dietetics is extremely diverse, and many registered dietitians move from one area to another over the course of their careers.
I will tell you this tidbit, dear reader: I love talking with people one-on-one about nutrition and connecting with them in a way I never did before studying dietetics (or before starting THIH!). Right now, I am having a blast working in nutrition counseling at my current rotation. I’ll be sure to share more details in a later post :) Thanks for the question, Sandy!
On to today’s topic: In a recent nutrition class, we talked about how physical activity can contribute 15-30% of your total energy expenditure (including exercise and NEAT – nonexercise activity thermogenesis, e.g. fidgeting). The digestion and absorption of food (diet-induced thermogenesis) requires ~10% of your energy, while your basal metabolism requires 60-75%. Physical activity is the easiest energy expenditure you can change (you can change your metabolism and even your diet-induced thermogenesis; but, we won’t get into it now).
I’m sure many of you have heard that walking 10,000 steps per day (about 5 miles) can contribute to good health and prevent slow weight gain. A few months ago, I was curious about how many steps I was taking per day. For several non-consecutive days, I wore my pedometer from the moment I woke up to the well-earned moment when I hopped into bed for the night. I did not include daily exercise, as the 10,000 steps are to be taken BEYOND exercise. So, what did you find out, Jessie?
(Disclaimer: My pedometer is a cheapo unit I picked up when I was working with a nutrition program and likely was not accurate – at least it was accurate to within an order of magnitude! :D Also, like a decent scientist, I tried not to let the fact that I was wearing a pedometer affect my actions or choices, e.g. taking the stairs instead of using the elevator to increase my total. My frequent peeks at the pedometer indicate I was not entirely successful.)
Like a sneaky scientist, I did not report all the data I gathered over several weeks. That would be pretty boring, would it not? A sampling, then, if you please:
4278?? This first day was a shocker. I consider myself an active person, choosing to walk instead of staying still and never passing up the opportunity for a good play session with the dogs. Guess 10,000 steps per day isn’t a breeze. Not impossible – achieving 10,000 steps just takes effort.
… oh, you want to know what I was doing during that day? I was at the VA hospital, dashing around the hospital as a clinical dietetics student. Guess I didn’t dash around as much as I’d thought.
My, oh my. Jessie. What were you doing, girl? I have to confess to you guys: this was a weekend day. A BUSY weekend day, yes … but, busy at my computer with schoolwork and internship projects. After I saw this number, I told myself: Less computer time, more move-time. Can you guys guess why I haven’t been blogging as much lately?
I decided not to change up my routine yet, and so came up with this remarkably similar number of steps to day one (4280 vs. 4278). In fact, I walked these 4280 steps on another hospital day. If I’m not prolific with my steps, at least I’m consistent.
Finally broke the 5000 steps mark! Surprisingly, I walked these steps on a day when I had classes all day. I thought the steps total would be the lowest of them all, but it ended up being the highest. Go figure. … well, ok, I know why. On this day, I had to dash out between classes to mail a package I had put off until the last minute and was literally running back and forth between buildings. I guess procrastination paid off in this case.
My original plan was to continue wearing a pedometer and document how I worked my way up to 10,000 steps per day. However, my original cheapo pedometer broke after the 5000+ steps day and I have yet to get a new one. I would like to continue this experiment, so stay tuned for more!
In the meantime, how can I increase my steps? Like with many lifestyle changes, starting slow is the way to go. Exempli gratia: if you enjoy a sport, get out there and play instead of sitting on the sidelines! Do more of this:
And less of this:
If you have a pet, do more of this:
And less of this:
(Yes, I know they’re cute, but they need exercise, too! Save the pet cuddle sessions for the couch. Also, I got TWO pictures of Maddie in this post! Bwah ha ha ha!)
Working your way up to 10,000 steps per day doesn’t have to be boring. Take a walk after dinner (a mile will add 2000 steps to your total!). If it’s dark after dinner, take your walk after lunch (and save the siesta for later). With warm weather appearing with every step, take your walks outside and welcome Spring!
I’m off to toss a tennis ball with the dogs. Catch ya later!
Q: What are your tricks for moving around more during the day? Do you wear a pedometer?