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Does “Shelter In Place” Mean We Can’t Go Outside to Exercise?

Does “Shelter In Place” Mean We Can’t Go Outside to Exercise?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…..about “Sheltering In Place” and getting outside for a walk or exercise.

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, because of the coronavirus, we have been told to “Shelter in Place”.  What if I need to get outside for a walk or exercise? Is that alright?

A:  With all the changes taking place right now, that is a very good question.  The answer was actually publish in the St. Patrick’s Day edition of the East Bay Times.

The article says, “Yes, you’re not going to get cited if you set foot outside for some much needed fresh air.  You can go on a walk or exercise or take a pet to do its thing outside – as long as you maintain good social distancing practices and stay at least 6 feet from any other person”.

We all need to do our part to help end this virus. Being World Walk To Wellness - Social Distancing-two people giving elbow bumps instead of hugssure to stay a safe distance from other people is a simple way that we can stay healthy.  No hand shakes or hugs for now.  We also want to remember that our health affects the health of others, including people who may have a compromised immune system.

As we “Shelter In Place” we will still get out on Saturday mornings for our walks but we will be careful to practice our social distancing.


Walking-The Real Benefits

Walking-The Real Benefits

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…..about Walking

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, its winter. It’s cold outside, and frequently gray.  Tell me again why I should get out of bed on a Saturday morning to walk with you?

A: You’ll feel better if you do.  Don’t just take my word for it:  Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., the author of a new book entitled The Joy of Movement, offered these good reasons in the January edition of Spry (

  • IT’S A STRESS-BUSTER – “… A 25-year-old study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found physical activity (walking) to be the most effective way to improve your mood. It beat eating, sleeping, and talking with friends.  ‘While it doesn’t eliminate stress, it does help us handle it with greater hope and calm. Plus, it tends to shift our mood toward a more positive outlook.’”

  • IT HELPS US CONNECT – “When exercising, World Walk To Wellness the brain releases chemicals, such as endorphins and endocannabinoids, which increase the pleasure we take from connecting with others,’ McGonigal says. ‘If you want to strengthen a relationship, take a walk  If you want to form new friendships, find a place where you can move with others.  If you struggle with social anxiety, regular exercise can make it easier and more enjoyable to spend time with others.’”


    Physical activity is already linked to better brain health, and McGonigal says that regular exercise (walking) can not only protect against Alzheimer’s disease but also strengthen the brain’s reward system. ‘This can relieve depression and make you better able to experience everyday pleasures,’ she says.


    Being active with a group boosts the “feel-good” effect of movement more than exercising alone. “After being physically active with a group, people feel more optimistic, more hopeful, and more connected to others.”

So, less stress and/or depression, improved relationships, and increased happiness…isn’t that worth getting up and out for a walk?



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 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, 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!