Increasing Daily Physical Activity One Step at a Time

The prevalence of obesity in the United States is reaching epidemic proportions. In middle-aged individuals, the problem is often labeled “creeping obesity.”

It is not unusual to experience a one-pound weight gain each year. Over the span of 20 years this one-pound gain results in an additional 20 pounds.

How does it happen?

Well, there is no Obesity Fairy who visits us one night and the next day we are 20 pounds heaver. Changes in body weight occur gradually, not overnight; thus the name “creeping obesity.”

For an individual to gain a pound of fat requires an excess of 3,500 calories. Given that there are 365 days per year, we need only consume about 10 extra calories per day to gain one pound per year. Ten calories is the equivalent of a few extra pretzels or chips. From a physical activity perspective, burning 10 extra calories per day is the equivalent of taking a few extra steps every day.

I have outlined a few strategies that I use to fight creeping obesity (see below). I bet you could come up with several more for yourself. Keep in mind that this is modest activity designed to avoid those 10 extra calories a day that over time really add up.

Increasing your daily activity can be a powerful aid in maintaining your current weight. Combining an effective eating plan with your exercise routine can lead to actual weight loss, but patience and consistency are needed for success.

Remember to consult your physician first to assess the impact increasing your physical activity could have on controlling blood glucose levels.

And remember also to reward yourself (but not with food!) for making these positive changes.

Four Simple Strategies for Burning Extra Calories Each Day

1. Park farther away from your workplace and walk

I live about 2.7 miles from my workplace. I routinely drive about 2.5 miles, then park in a neighborhood close to my office and walk. This routine burns about 45 calories, and if I do it twice a week, I have taken care of those 10 daily calories.

2. Park farther away from your shopping destination and walk.

I often see people driving in circles at shopping centers searching for a closer parking space when many spaces are available just a short distance away.

3. Return shopping carts to their proper place.

In conjunction with the above, I suspect these same people driving in circles have also blocked many available parking spaces with their abandoned shopping carts. Again, it takes very little effort to return a cart, but even those few extra steps burn calories.

4. Avoid elevators and take the stairs whenever you can.

Consider walking around the concourse before sporting events. I like to arrive early for baseball games and other events whenever I can and walk a few laps around the concourse.

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