You know exercise can help you lose weight, but all that sweating and grunting at the gym turns you off. A simple device you snap to your belt loop can help you increase activity without slogging away for hours on exercise machines. Use a pedometer to track your steps and keep you accountable for reaching a certain distance every day to help you burn more calories and lose weight.
Strap the pedometer to your belt loop or waist band using a string or a provided clip.
Measure how many steps you take in a typical week. Do not try to exceed what is normal for you; you are establishing a baseline.
Add 20 percent more steps the next week. Each consecutive week, increase your distance by 20 percent over the previous week until you reach an average of 10,000 steps per day -- the number that is roughly equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise daily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this amount of exercise for good health.
Maintain the 10,000-step goal for two to three weeks to make it a habit. Increase your steps gradually again, by 10 to 20 percent each week, until you reach an average of 12,000 to 15,000 per day. You need to take these extra steps to spur weight loss.
Stick with your 12,000- to 15,000-step-per-day program for four weeks or longer. A study published in the "Annals of Family Medicine" in 2008 found that programs of 16 weeks or longer led to greater weight loss.
- Walking doesn't have to consist of a planned workout. Take the stairs an extra couple of times during the day, pace while you are on the phone, canvas the mall before stopping in a store, or park further out in the lot. These steps add up and will help you achieve your goals.
- Augment your increase in walking activity with dietary changes that include portion control and lots of leafy greens, whole grains and lean proteins. Cut back on sugary, white-flour processed foods and watch your calorie intake to expedite weight loss.
- Wear walking-friendly shoes, even to work. Consider flats or supportive heels. Trying to increase your mileage in stilettos is only asking for foot injury and calf pain.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.