Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stepping Up!

By now, everyone's heard of the 10,000 steps a day method of gaining fitness and losing weight.  We've all also heard of the study of an Old Order Amish community, in which the men generally average 18,000 steps a day and the women, 14,000 a day.  This reflects the rural lifestyle that was common in most parts of the world, including the U.S., until some point in the twentieth century.  The Old Order Amish who farm generally don't have any problems with obesity.  (Interestingly, those who manage stores and are more sedentary are more prone to being overweight than their more active counterparts.)   It's my belief that our bodies were meant to move and not to sit, sit, sit.

As I discussed in my last post, there are some who think that exercise that is too strenuous might be counterproductive for people who are hypothyroid.  Some think that burnout of the adrenal glands often accompanies hypothyroid issues and that over-exercising only makes that worse.  However, there are so many ways that exercise can help those of us with thyroid issues that we can't afford not to partake of it in some fashion.

Achieving 10,000 steps a day does not necessarily require you to walk at such a high intensity that your exercise efforts could backfire.  If you, like me, live a typical modern lifestyle, however, you probably will have to spend time in dedicated walking.  This is a good time to build stamina.  As you become fitter, you might find that you can up the intensity of your exercise a bit without overtaxing your adrenals and thyroid. Some people believe that at least part of your stepping routine should be at high intensity.  People who have struggled with hypothyroid for a long time and who are out of shape, overweight, and possibly fighting one or more immune diseases shouldn't feel that they need to jump right there.  Building up slowly is wise.  

Adding more steps to your day has been known to help many health problems.  I have a good friend with type 2 diabetes who has greatly improved her health through taking 10,000 steps a day and watching what she eats.

I'm using myself as a guinea pig to see how the 10,000 steps program might work for a person with thyroid issues.  I started doing it a few months ago, but I was sidelined when I caught a respiratory virus and had complications related to asthma afterward.  I think I might have jumped in too quickly and that I over-stressed my immune system.  I've been trying again lately, though.  In one short week, I am seeing an increase in energy and a lessening of brain fog.  I'll keep you posted on how my experiment goes.

Some say that to actually lose weight and keep it off, you should work up to at least 13,000 steps a day.  Again, no one should jump right to such a goal.  The usual advice is to wear a pedometer for a week without changing your routine.  At the end of a week, you can average your daily steps to come up with a current daily step range.  To this range, add about 500 steps a day for the next week and so forth.  Gradually, over many weeks, you will reach your ultimate step goal.  You'll begin to see benefits long before you reach your goal, especially if your beginning point falls into the range of a sedentary lifestyle.