What will hit­ting my 10,000 step goal ac­tu­ally do for me?

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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.

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