Introduction: Best Fitness Plan Ever!

About: I'm an artist, environmentalist, animal lover, gardener, recycling nut, a high school teacher, crafter, Mom, Christian and widow who reads a lot in between figuring out how to do things.

My fitness plan is very easy, and (relatively) low cost:
1. Walk dogs daily ( the dog part is the expensive part of this fitness plan)
2. Use a pedometer to check number of steps (goal of 10000 steps a day)

Step 1: Necessary Equipment:

Need dogs to walk. ..I have three willing candidates.

Dog equipment:
Leashes:   I found this nifty thing that lets me tether their leashes to my waist so that I can swing my arms and do other things.
Head collars for the ginormous and large dog so that I don't end up sledding involuntarily on my tush but actually walk normally. The medium size dog walks herself (very well behaved dog).

Person equipment:
Comfy shoes (doesn't have to be running shoes, sometimes I even walk in my Birkenstocks)
Cell phone (I text my daughter who is my accountability partner when I walk and I can take pictures too)
Pedometer (thing to count the number of steps I take)
Back pack for carrying stuff

Step 2: Pedometer

A pedometer counts the number of steps you take. You clip it on your waist and it will count your steps. Mine also has functions like a clock, a timer, calorie counter (you input your weight), distance (you input the size of your average step and it computes the distance you've traveled), and of course the step counter. I got my pedometer at Target for $10.

Why count your steps? The average person usually walks between 4,000 and 6,000 steps every day without even thinking about it. But if you sit at a desk all day, you may be only doing about 2,000 steps in a day, which will not give you health benefits. 10,000 steps is the equivalent of 5 miles or about 8 kilometers. And with the pedometer attached to my waist, I am constantly looking to see how I'm doing that day.  I get a kick of increasing the number of steps. It also helps me to know when to stop! I tend to get in the garden and work until I drop, but when I see that I've already racked up 10,000 steps and it isn't even noon yet, I need to take a break!

For those who need more convincing:
A study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise by Dixie L. Thompson, PhD, with the Center for Physical Activity and Health at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. (From WebMD)

"Pedometers have become increasingly popular devices for public use," writes Thompson. "These devices are relatively inexpensive, are unobtrusive, and provide immediate feedback to the wearer." They also provide a relatively accurate report of overall calorie burn.

Among women over age 40, walking has been known to make a difference, reports Thompson. She set out to give midlife women a "walking formula" for weight loss.

In her study, 80 women -- average age 50 years old -- wore a pedometer every day for seven days. But before they started, researchers measured their height, weight, body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat), as well as waist and hips (to determine belly fat).

Women wore their pedometers on their waistband. Every evening, they noted the number of steps they walked that day. Every morning, they reset the pedometers. They did nothing different, in terms of exercise -- just followed their typical work and leisure routines.

At the end of seven days, it was obvious: Women who walked more had less body fat, lower body mass index (BMI), and a lower waist/hip circumference, writes Thompson.

BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio are measures of obesity. A BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight, and more than 30 is obese. In men, having a waist more than 40 inches or waist-to-hip ratio more than 0.95 increases the risk of health problems. In women, it's 35 inches and 0.80.

The average sedentary person walks 2,000-3,000 steps per day.

In this study, women walking:

Less than 6,000 steps had a BMI of 29, 44% body fat, a 37-inch waist, 42-inch hips, and a 0.87 waist-to-hip ratio.
6,000 to 10,000 steps had a BMI of 26, 35% body fat, a 32-inch waist, 40-inch hips, and a 0.80 waist-to-hip ratio.
10,000 steps or more had a BMI of 23, 26% body fat, a 29-inch waist, 39-inch hips, and a 0.75 waist-to-hip ratio.

Step 3: 3 Other Benefits

Three other benefits of my easy fitness plan:

1. My dogs are better behaved the more I walk them.
2. This is a great way to meet the neighbors!
3. Accountability: My daughter and I text each other (I live in Texas and she's in Georgia) when we walk and this keeps us motivated.

Fitness Challenge

Participated in the
Fitness Challenge