Sunday, 4 February 2018

'Forget about 10,000 steps a day?' NOT. ME.

A BBC health broadcaster, Michael Mosley, recently postulated that walking 10,000 paces a day does not have the same health benefits at Public Health England's Active 10 regime ( about which I wrote here). I gave up on the Active 10 app for one reason - it needs you to remember to start it. Other than that, the idea is good - it forces you to walk more briskly. Quality, not quantity of steps. Nothing wrong with that - I'd recommend Active 10 as part of your 10,000 paces. In 30 minutes of brisk walking, you should be able to cram in around 3,300- 3,600 paces.

My flu last month meant that my average daily paces for January fell below 8,000 (last year I was averaging over 11,000 a month), should I get anxious at making up for lost walking?

I think it's worth it. Walking is not just about the physical health benefits. It's about time not spent driving a car (an activity that one should minimise, having first used every argument against doing so before getting in and driving somewhere). Driving is polluting, congesting and ultimately dangerous.

Walking is also about clearing the mind of fug, staleness and inertia - when one walks, one thinks. Especially if you're away from the hubbub and traffic of the city centre.

Last month, Andrew Nathan sent me a link to an interesting Guardian article about walking, in particular four habits that can increase its effectiveness. Health guru Joanna Hall is another advocate of intensive walking.

The first is to use the hips (which are normally perpendicular to direction of travel. By swivelling and lifting the hip, moving it forward, your stride lengthens (below).

Then concentrate on the feet - using the muscles of the instep to lift the heel, adding an extra boost, literally, the spring in your step. Push your legs up off the ground, as well as merely lifting them.

Next - arms. Having them in the pockets does not help. Swinging them in rhythm with the legs aids marching - as armies can testify. No need to exaggerate the motion, but using them assists the stride.

Finally - back and neck - upright. "Show off your imaginary diamond pendants," she advises female readers. Keep an erect posture while walking.

Now the difficult part - coordinating those four principles in a smooth, brisk walk, without having to think consciously about it....

For older readers, some further advice. DO NOT walk with a single walking stick. It creates asymmetry in your movement, bad muscle memory, pain down one side and not the other. Use TWO sticks - be they Nordic walking poles or trekking sticks - ideally with wrist straps.

So - having knocked out 12,300 paces today, I for one am not giving up on the 10,000 target. I do intend to return to Active 10 (we'll be inviting a speaker from Public Health England to the British Embassy in Warsaw to talk about the UK government's 'nudge' approach to personal health and fitness. It would be very interesting to see the cost/benefit analysis behind the OneYou campaign of which Active 10 is a part. And I will be suggesting a more better user experience with the app; if you can choose to keep the app running in the background, so you don't have to go through an array of icons before switching on Active 10, it will be far more useful - with added benefits for society and health.

[UPDATE 18.02.2018. I can see why I quit Active 10 at my first go - it's not very reliable as an app. Sometimes, it fails to log activity, even though it's on. Twice this week I did 20+ minute-long walks where 15+ minutes would have counted as 'brisk' - they didn't show up. Neither the 'walking' nor the 'brisk walking'. And it's random. Worked fine today and the day before yesterday, was not working properly yesterday. It's disheartening. A few days like that, and I don't bother switching it on.Very poor user info, no feedback channel to the developers. No user forums, no support. Public Health England has a potentially great tool - but it needs working on.]

This time last year:
Ukraine - fight or flight?

This time four years ago:
Sadness at the death of Tadeusz Mosz 

This five years ago:
Oldschool photochallenge

This time eight years ago:
Warsaw's wonderful nooks and crannies

This time ten years ago:
Viaduct to the airport at ul. Poleczki almost ready


Anonymous said...

Get a life relative youngster - seem you spend all your free time counting steps, reading about how to live another year or two or monitoring alcohol units - you are over 60 - stop being a pen pusher and a time monitor and go out and experience life. Take the advice from another old foggy who learnt late in life that it is for living and not counting.

PS More of your lovely pictures please

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous


Anonymous said...

I take it you've not monitored your intake nor counted your steps. I take it you're on blood pressure medication.

Can you get a stiffy?

Life is indeed for living.