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Our theme of the week: Pedometers, and the whole notion that you can do yourself a lot of good by just slipping exercise into the interstices of your life — the 10-minute desk exercise (see a how-to video in the upper right corner here), taking the stairs, parking farther away. I have to confess to skepticism that verges on prejudice against this notion. In my experience, it's the good long workouts that carry magic, not the bits and pieces along the way. But I'd love to be corrected. Please set me straight if your experience or reading of the research contradicts my instincts.
Meanwhile, here's proponent #1 for the pedometer this week: Blue Cross Blue Shield chief Andrew Dreyfus, whose pedometer-use is featured in the Globe this week and in the Blue Cross video below. It's kind of an ad for Blue Cross, but he does make this cogent point: "It's amazing how having a quantifiable goal is motivating."
The Globe story emphasizes that competing against others for higher numbers of steps — as Andrew does with his 12-year-old daughter — helps push people. To me, though, the whole pedometer idea raises a basic question: Do I want to mesh fitness into every aspect of my life, always trying to do the right — that is, more active — thing? Or do I want to keep it more segregated in discrete workout periods? I know I could do both, but right now, I relish the feeling after a workout of being "done" with my fitness quotient for the day.
For the counter-argument, here's Dr. Eddie Phillips, director of the Institute of LIfestyle Medicine, in an email:
"The recommendations for daily physical activity can be achieved anywhere, throughout your day by adding up your steps. You need not break a sweat, get out of breath or need to change your clothes in order to meet the daily physical activity goals, as Andrew Dreyfus has shown."
"Additionally, you can multi-task by walking slowly (1 MPH) while typing on your laptop or talking on the phone... The trick is to keep walking and do it throughout the day."
This program aired on June 29, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.