The Official Newsletter of
updated November 21, 2007


The Truth about 
Step Counting

by Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide 

"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too." 
Washington DC


THE BESTSELLING BOOK proclaims on it's cover, "Count Steps, not Calories." Based on a weight reduction method popularized in Japan, step counting is the current rage among people looking to shed pounds. Used properly, step counting can be an effective part of a total weight management system that includes regular physical activity and dietary control. Unfortunately, used improperly without also monitoring and modifying the balance between your total caloric intake and expenditures (your energy balance), step counting becomes just another disappointing quick fix fad for weight loss.

Special devices to count steps, pedometers, are sold to those who wish to employ the step counting method. Most pedometers are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use. The basic idea is that an adult will typically walk five miles for each 10,000 steps registered on a pedometer worn on the hip throughout the day. An advantage of  pedometers is that they conveniently capture each step, no matter what your activity level. Theoretically, all those little steps add up, but obviously not as much as when you deliberately engage in extended periods of aerobic exercise, either on the job or recreationally.

A watch with a chronometer to monitor walking time can easily be substituted for a pedometer. At a brisk normal walking pace of 3.5 mph, an adult can cover five miles, or 10,000 steps, in about one hour and 25 minutes. But what does walking 10,000 steps have to do with losing weight?

Actually, not much, unless the calories burned from all those steps are incorporated into an effective weight management system. What good is walking 10,000 steps if you eat thousands of extra calories to make up for it? Sooner or later, calorie awareness enters back into the weight-loss picture, despite the claims for step methods sold as the latest quick fix.

Scientific studies continue to confirm that self-monitoring one's calorie intake and expenditures is crucial for effective weight management. See Science Backs Calorie Counting. Even when using a pedometer, studies show that people who don't self-monitor their step activity by using logs, diaries and by setting target goals fail to achieve increased levels of physical activity (Bravata et al, 2007).

If you decide to use a pedometer, here's how to convert steps into calories burned. This information will allow you to balance your calories burned with your calorie intake in order to set and achieve specific weight loss goals. (See the Body Fat Wizard). At 3.5 mph it takes about half an hour to walk 3,500 steps, which is equivalent to burning an amount of calories equal to your bodyweight. Therefore, each step burns an amount of calories equal to your bodyweight/3,500. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you will burn 150/3,500 calories per step, or 0.0428571 calories per step. Therefore, 1,000 steps (about half a mile) at your bodyweight burns 42.8571 calories.

Whether or not you employ pedometers or watches to monitor your activity and calculate your calorie expenditures, you still require a weight management system that provides the easiest way to modify your energy balance, which is the balance between your calorie intake and expenditures. This system should also allow you to monitor your body composition so you can make effective changes in your body fat and lean body mass levels...  
The Body Fat Guide

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Bravata, D. M., Smith-Spangler, C., Sundaram V., Gienger. A. L., Lin, N., Lewis, R., Stave, C. D., Olkin, I., Sirard, J. R. (2007). Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: A systematic review. JAMA. 2007; 298(19): 2296-2304. Body Fat Guy Diet Myths Fat Guide Love Handles Body Fat Review
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