Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Why Fit More Walking Into Your Life?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…on Walking

September 4, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you may have said this before, but please tell me again:  Why should we try to fit more walking into our life?

A: When Vivek Murthy was United States’ surgeon general, he “prescribed” a single activity for America to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  Here are the nine reasons cited by Anna Almendrala, healthy living editor of the Huffington Post, for making walking an important part of your life:

LOWER RATES OF OBESITY – “A 2015 study found that even walking just 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of premature death by 30 percent, and the Mayo Clinic notes that 30 minutes a day burns about 150 calories, which can help you reach a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.”

PREVENT DIABETES – “Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn keep insulin levels low and diabetes at bay. Walking group adding steps to their dayIn fact, walking for 15 minutes after every meal helped regulate blood sugar levels just as effectively as one 45-minute walk per day, according to a 2013 study, which is good for Americans daunted by one big walking session.”

GOOD FOR YOUR HEART – “If you walk at a clip where it feels comfortable to talk, but not comfortable enough to sing, then your heart is getting a great workout, Murthy noted.”

GENTLE ENOUGH FOR NEARLY EVERYBODY – “Pregnant? Morbidly obese?  Arthritic?  Walking is gentle enough for most people who have these conditions, doctors agree, and the activity can ease the pain of chronic illness – even if you have to start off with just two minutes a day.”

IMPROVES YOUR MOOD – “Moving your body is a well-known way to release endorphins, a set of feel-good chemicals that dull pain receptors in the brain, sedate you, and even give you a feeling of happiness and euphoria.  That’s why exercise in general, and walking in particular, is recommended to help improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression”

HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER – “There’s a reason that travel experts advise you to walk around a new city on the day you arrive.  Exposing your body to the sunlight and staying outside until it grows dark helps recalibrate the hormone melatonin to your new surroundings and time zone.  As melatonin rises, so do feelings of sleepiness.”

WALKING IS AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE – “There’s no gym membership, fancy exercise clothing, or even walking-specific shoes you need to start.  You also don’t have to be trained to learn how to walk properly. All you need is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes!”

MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS – “One in two Americans don’t know their neighbors.  Remedy that today by taking a walk around your block.  You’d be surprised at how many friendly faces you see and meet!”

INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF SEEING BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND SUNSETS BY A MILLION – “This one isn’t a scientific fact, but it just makes sense.  Take a page from the immensely successful memoir Wild, in which Cheryl Strayed wrote, ‘There’s a sunrise and sunset every day.  You can choose to be there for it.  You can put yourself in the way of beauty.’”

I hope that any one of those good reasons will help you decide to schedule walks most days of the week.


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How to Reduce Belly Fat

How to Reduce Belly Fat

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

July 2019


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, with each passing year, I seem to be adding to my padding…particularly in my middle.  Do you have suggestions for how to reduce belly fat?

A: You certainly are not alone in the so-called “battle of the bulge!”  Extra padding around your midsection could increase your risk of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

As you undoubtedly know, all physical activity will burn fuel in the muscles. Sometimes that fuel is converted fat, which will result in fat and weight loss, if not replaced in our nutrition plans. Remember, Energy Balance means consumption and use of calories are equal. To lose fat, Energy Balance has to be negative (more activity than eating, to simplify it).

The caveat:  When Energy Balance is negative and we burn fat in the muscles, we can’t direct where that fat comes from. If we have enough negative energy balance days that significant fat is burned as fuel, belly fat should be reduced, also.

 A recent article in parade.com had the following suggestions for winning the “battle of the bulge”:

  • TAKE A NATURE BREAK – “According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, strolling or sitting for 20 minutes in nature significantly lowers cortisol levels and help reduce belly fat. High levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, stimulate production of glucose, which – if it’s not used as energy – is converted into fat that’s stored in your midsection.”

  • STAND UP – “The more time people spend sitting down during the day, the more abdominal fat they had, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity….The link was strongest for those who didn’t get the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.” Standing while working for part of your day will help reduce belly fat.

  • EXERCISE IN INTERVALS – “While any type of Goup of people out for a brisk walk to reduce belly fat and improve healthcardio will burn fat, research shows you’re more likely to trim your tummy doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of workout where you alternate exerting maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise with short, active recovery periods, says Wayne Westcott, PhD, professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. In one study, people who did two traditional ‘steady-state’ workouts and two HIIT workouts a week lost more weight overall and significantly more inches from their waistline, compared to the group that did only steady-state routines.”

  • EAT MORE PULSES – “The umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas, pulses have been shown to reduce body fat. Regular eaters have smaller waist measurements and overall 20 percent lower risk of obesity, says Cynthia Sass, RD.”

  • START STRENGTH TRAINING – At any age, adding weights to your workout can help you manage (and reduce belly fat) your middle, Westcott reports…To gain muscle, Westcott recommends strength training at least twice a week.”

  • CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS – “Higher levels of body fat are associated with lower vitamin D levels in people who are overweight, according to a recent study in the Netherlands….You can boost levels naturally by eating more fatty fish like salmon and eating D-fortified dairy products, orange juice or cereal.”

Try any or all of these techniques to keep help to reduce belly fat and “adding to your padding.”


Stay Safe in the Heat and Still Get Your Steps In

Stay Safe in the Heat and Still Get Your Steps In

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, do you have any advice on how to stay safe in the heat and still get your steps in when the temperatures climb to triple digits?

A: Don’t stop taking walks outdoors, but take them when it is cooler – early morning or late evening when it is still light out.  Avoid being in direct sunlight as much as possible.  Pick walking destinations where there is shade. 

As always, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.  In partnership with East Bay Regional Parks, Kaiser Permanente suggests 6-8 glasses of water per day; carrying a water bottle with you, and eating fruits and vegetables with high water content.

Alameda County sent out an “excessive heat advisory” message, based on the National Weather Service’s forecast this week.  Here are some of the things to be aware of:


In the hottest part of the day, it’s a good idea to stay in an air-conditioned space (building or car).  However, we still need to plan time to get outdoors and walk – just at cooler hours.



Distracted walking is causing more accidents and deaths

Distracted walking is causing more accidents and deaths

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I heard that “distracted walking” is causing more accidents and deaths.  What are some ways we can be safer?              

A: That is a timely question since June is National Safety Month.  The National Safety Council website confirms that “distracted walking” is causing more accidents and even deaths.  They offer information on how we can keep safe when we are pedestrians as (and even inside our own homes):

“Head Up, Phone Down”

“Distracted walking incidents are on the rise, and everyone with a cell phone is at risk. According to a Governors Highway woman distracted walking with a phone in her hand and her head down not watching where she is walkingSafety Association report, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by motor vehicles in 2017. This number mirrors 2016 fatalities. Total pedestrian deaths in 2017, both traffic- and non-traffic-related, were 7,450, according to Injury Facts.

“We are losing focus on our surroundings and putting our safety – and the safety of others – at risk. The solution: Stop using phones while walking, and not just in crosswalks and intersections. Over half of distracted walking injuries occur in our own homes, proving that we need to stay aware of our surroundings, whether they’re new or familiar.

“While many communities are implementing measures to become more ‘walkable,’ like adding more paths and traffic-calming measures, there still is a long way to go to keep pedestrians safe. Malls surrounded by parking lots, few sidewalks, blind intersections, and high traffic areas all contribute to pedestrian fatalities and injuries.”

“All Age Groups are Vulnerable”

“While pedestrian-vehicle injuries are the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19, according to SafeKids.org, no age group is immune. Here are a few tips from NHTSA and NSC for children and adults of all ages:

  • “Look left, right and left again before crossing the street; looking left a second time is necessary because a car can cover a lot of distance in a short amount of time
  • “Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
  • “Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
  • “Don’t wear headphones while walking
  • “Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
  • “If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
  • “Never rely on a car to stop
  • “Children younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult
  • “Only cross at designated crosswalks
  • “Wear bright and/or reflective clothing
  • “Walk in groups

“Walking is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy, but only if we put safety first. At the National Safety Council, we don’t believe in accidents. Please join us in doing everything you can to prevent senseless injuries and deaths.”

Yes, walking can be dangerous, but so can almost any activity.  Mr. Pedometer points out that our “Walk ‘n’ Talk” sessions on Saturday mornings are with a friendly group that watches out for one another, and we choose pretty safe locations as our destinations.  We hope you’ll join us, to see for yourself!

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Stroke Awareness – What you need to know!

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

May 2019

Did you know that May is Stroke Awareness Month?   The National Stroke Association is raising awareness about strokes because of how debilitating they can be for survivors and because they can happen to anyone, at any age. Knowing how to tell if someone is having a stroke could be the key to saving their life.  And knowing the risk factors and what we can do to prevent them is a good way to protect ourselves. Full recovery from a stroke is dependent upon how quickly the person gets medical help. 

Remember to “Act F.A.S.T., which translates as follows:  Acronym FAST spelled out for how to respond to a stroke

  • F= Face – Does the person’s face drop on one side when they try to smile?

  • A = Arm – After raising both arms, does one of the person’s arms drift downward?

  • S = Speech – When repeating a simple phrase, is the person’s speech slurred or strange?

  • T = Time – If ANY or all of the above are observed, it’s time to call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance.

Help save someone’s life by remembering that simple acronym.  For more information, see the National Stroke Association Website TheNSA is urging people to look at their stroke risk factors, and commit to making at least one change to reduce their stroke risk.

Here’s how much stroke would be reduced if each was eliminated:

  • *Hypertension 47.9%

  • *Physical inactivity 35.8%

  • *Lipids (blood fats) 26.8%

  •   Poor diet 23.2%

  • *Obesity 18.6%

  •   Smoking 12.4%

  • *Heart causes 9.1%

  •   Alcohol intake 5.8%

  • *Stress 5.8%

  • *Diabetes 3.9%

70% of the above Risk Factors can be reduced or eliminated by simply walking.  Walking can save your life.  For information on starting a walking program, go to Your Own Pedometer Walking Program at World Walk To Wellness and get started walking! 

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

8 Tips to Avoid Falling; The Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the Elderly

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 15, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, I read that “Every 11 seconds in the U.S., an older adult ends up in the emergency room due to a fall. ‘It’s the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly,’ says Catherine Colon-Emeric, M.D., chief of geriatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine. Do you have any advice that could help us avoid falling?

A: You certainly are not alone in having concerns about falling – and with good reason. The June issue of Consumer Reports on Health has some tips to help prevent falls.  Below are the 8 tips that can help all age groups but especially the elderly to avoid the risk of a broken hip or a concussion:


    – “Some prescription and over-the-counter meds can affect balance. For instance, diuretics may lower blood pressure too much and lead to dizziness on standing. Some allergy drugs, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and generic) may cause dizziness and sleepiness….Some meds can cause dehydration, which can also increase the risk of falling when you stand up…. At least once a year, review your meds – Over-the-counter, alternative products, and supplements – with your doctor.” 


    – “Eyesight naturally changes with age… [which] can make it more difficult to see shifts in terrain and other stumbling blocks. Hearing loss, too, has been linked to an increased risk of falling. A 2012 study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for example, found that middle-aged people with mild hearing loss were three times as likely to fall. See your eye doctor every year or two…. Have your ears checked at least every three years starting at age 50, or earlier if you are having trouble hearing.”


    – “Rugs, clutter, steps, cracked driveways and sidewalks, poor lighting, slick surfaces – all can contribute to tumbles. If you’re concerned about falling in the house and unsure about how to proceed, the Institute on Aging (blog.ioaging.org) has a home safety checklist.”


    – “Exercises that enhance gluteal, leg, and core strength Elderly man stretching and exercisinghelp with balance, says Colon-Emeric. ‘These muscles make it easier to catch yourself before you fall and make it easier to get out of bed, lift yourself off the toilet, or get out of the car.’ Moves like knee bends (stand tall and bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you) and sideways walking (keeping feet parallel, step out to the side with one leg, bring the other foot to meet it, then step out again) are part of a balance program called Otago that’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


    – “’Exercise is important, but simply practicing getting off the floor can make you stronger and less likely to fall,’ says Kathleen Bell, M.D., a psychiatrist and chairwoman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She suggests getting up and down 10 times three to four times a week. (When starting out, do this next to a bed or another stable object you can hold onto.)”


    “If you struggle with balance, choose shoes with sturdy, nonskid soles that fit snugly enough so they’re not sliding around underneath you. ‘You don’t have to opt for ugly shoes, but you don’t want to be walking around in bedroom slippers either,’ Bell says. If you’re unsteady, heels aren’t a good idea, nor are those hot-weather favorites, flip-flops. They offer zero support, catch on rugs, often have little grip on slick surfaces, and slip off easily.”


    “Having a pet can be good for your health, but your beloved pooch may also trigger falls by tripping you or pulling you down…. ‘Besides making sure you’re matched with a dog that suits your lifestyle, working with a trainer to learn how to control your dog and using a good leash and collar can help minimize falls,’ says Grace Anne Mengel, V.M.D., an assistant professor of clinical primary care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.”


    “Research suggests that simply being afraid of falling increases your likelihood of taking a tumble. In part, anxiety about falling can make it harder to focus on your surroundings. This fear can also cause you to limit physical activity, which in turn can lead to muscle weakness. If you find yourself frequently worried about falls, speak to your doctor.”

I hope these suggestions can help you avoid falling and allow you to continue to enjoy taking walks.