How many steps a day? Does a smartwatch help?

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Pedometers and fitness trackers have become commonplace gadgets today. Read our tips to learn how to use a pedometer to incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

How many steps a day are healthy?

Anyone who has ever had anything to do with pedometers knows: 10,000 is the magic number. 10,000 steps per day is roughly equivalent to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.

But closer analysis shows that the recommended number of steps of 10,000 per day goes back to an advertisement by a Japanese manufacturer of pedometers from 1964. In contrast, recent studies by the Harvard Medical School show that as few as 7,500 steps per day could have a comparably beneficial effect, with a lower risk of fatality and protection against cardiovascular disease.

The classic method is to take the stairs more often or get off the bus one stop earlier.

Good to know

A Swiss person takes an average of 7,000 steps per day.
An average person takes 50 million steps in a lifetime. In doing so, we cover 40,000 kilometres – in other words, we walk once around the globe.
A walk has a measurable effect on our psyche: the combination of moderate, constant exercise and being in nature reduces stress and keeps us fit at the same time.
A walk keeps our cardiovascular system in shape. During a walk we burn 200-400 calories per hour and train important foot, leg and core muscles.

Tip 1: setting realistic goals

Nevertheless, the advice of many experts remains: the more steps, the better for your health and body. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Even if you don't manage 7,500 or 10,000 steps a day at the beginning, the important thing is to increase your personal daily step count.

Changing habits takes time

Only resolve to do what you can maintain on a long-term basis. At the beginning, for example, just take 1,000 steps more each day. You can’t change your habits overnight, so it’s important that you achieve small successes and don't find yourself wanting to give up.

For example, people who become more aware of their own exercise tendencies thanks to a fitness tracker are 30% more active on average.

Tip 2: don’t forget the fun factor

If your aim is to increase the number of steps you take per day, you’re going to have to give up a few comforts. The classic method is to take the stairs more often or get off the bus one stop earlier. But there are also ways of increasing your steps and doing something you enjoy at the same time.

  • Certain everyday activities can be combined with a healthy walk: swapping the latest gossip with a friend, taking photos or listening to audio books or music. Do any of these and the kilometres will take care of themselves.
  • A daily walk also stimulates brain cells, and is a good idea when you want to learn vocabulary, hold a meeting with a work colleague, or come up with a creative idea.
  • Replace TV period dramas with visits to a museum, or detective series with geocaching searches.
  • Earn money: the active365 app will reward your healthy lifestyle. With every step you collect valuable activePoints and can earn up to CHF 600 per year.

What are the pros of smartwatches?

Are smartwatches merely a technical gadget or are they useful in pro­mo­ting our health? Studies show that the motivational effect of using self-tracking tools actually does lead to healthier behaviour: for example, people who become more aware of their own exercise tendencies thanks to a fitness tracker are 30% more active on average. Experts believe that the use of new tech­no­lo­gies will shape tomorrow's healthcare, from prevention right through to treatment.

Tracking motivates

As a first step, it's important to wear the smartwatch and gather data. Analysing this data completes the second step: how much we move, how long we rest or sleep for, etc. This awareness motivates us to get more exercise or helps us to sleep better, therefore improving our quality of life.

Which smartwatch is right for you?

The range of smartwatches and fitness bracelets is wide. This makes it all the more essential to think about what's important to you before buying.

Tips before you buy:

  1. What data do I want to monitor? Only movement, or also sleep, heart rate and nutrition?
  2. Is it enough to just measure fitness data, or do I also want to phone, navigate with it, etc.?
  3. How important is precise measurement?
  4. Which smartphone/tablet does my wearable have to be compatible with?
  5. What budget do I have?
  6. How long should the battery last?
  7. Do I want to wear it on my wrist or tuck it away in my pocket?
  8. Which brand do people around me use?
  9. Do I want to compare my data with my friends?

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