What will hitting my 10,000 step goal actually do for me?
You’ve got your Fitbit. You’re actively refusing Ubers. But why 10,000? It might surprise you to learn that the magic number is actually the relic of a 1960s Japanese marketing campaign for, yep, you guessed it, a pedometer. Crafty. Clever. Credible? Public Health England recently released new guidelines suggesting that the ‘active 10’ – three speedy 10-minute walks per day – could be more advantageous than the 10,000 steps goal. As for losing weight (if that’s your aim), while increasing your step count can lower your body fat, not all steps are created equal. ‘The higher the intensity of the workout, the more significant your weight loss will be,’ says Tom Marien, PT and founder of outdoor social fitness company One Element. ‘Not only will you burn more calories overall, but metabolic rate increases and remains high for hours after.’ Regardless of your goal, experts agree that you reap the rewards when you get your heart rate up – research suggests it could reduce your risk of early death by 15%. To make your 10,000 steps go the extra mile, Marien suggests alternating between walking and running and working inclines into your day. And, yes, running up the escalators on your commute counts.
Q When is the best time of day to snack and not compromise my diet?
First, there’s no such thing as ‘ruining your diet’. ‘If you associate certain foods with failure, then this suggests you have some beliefs about food that need to be challenged,’ says dietitian Priya Tew. Glad we cleared that up. As for when to snack? Tew cites a small-scale study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, which found that eating according to your circadian rhythm can affect your body weight, suggesting that late-night snacking could lead to more weight gain. We don’t know why yet, but Tew points out that high-sugar snacks could interfere with your sleep, as well as the obvious effect on your dental health. As for daytime snacking? ‘Becoming more in tune with your body’s cues on hunger, fullness and thirst – snacking more mindfully – will help,’ says Tew. In other words, go with your gut.
Q A friend has been diagnosed with OCD – how can I be there for them?
Despite the frequency with which the term is used, you can’t be ‘a bit OCD’. ‘It’s a type of anxiety disorder,’ says consultant psychiatrist and WH columnist Dr Sarah Vohra. ‘The obsession takes the form of distressing thoughts, worries or images. To alleviate these, the person affected may repeatedly carry out rituals like cleaning or counting – that’s the compulsion.’ Want to support your friend? Start talking. ‘It can be easy to assume that it’s something they have control over and can snap out of. But often they don’t, and can’t. They may be experiencing some shame from their symptoms that’s preventing them from opening up, so tell them what you’ve noticed. By sharing your concerns, you create a safe space for them to talk about their symptoms and, in turn, validate their distress.’ If they’ve been diagnosed, they should have access to professional support, but you can make sure they take it up.