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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 18:09 GMT
Pedometers: walk yourself fit
walking volunteer, working mum Fiona Bennison (on the right)
Fiona found a week of brisk walks has really made a difference
Exercise need not be hard work. In fact to keep reasonably fit you don't even need to go to the gym.

That's the message from an organisation which aims to show how simple it can be to get fit, with the aid of a pedometer.

A brisk walk has many health benefits - and it's something you can easily fit in to your daily routine, it says.

  • To put the theory to the test, Breakfast recruited three volunteers.

    One is a working mother, one is the doctor who accompanies Sir Ranulph Fiennes on many of his expeditions - and the third is the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

    You can read their daily diaries here on the Breakfast website: click here

    We issued them with a pedometer for a week - and on April 1, we called them back into the studio to see how they'd managed.

    The aim is to clock up 10.000 steps a day on the pedometer

    The campaigning and lobby group, Move4Health publicises how activity promotes health and wellbeing.

    It says just 30 minutes of brisk walking, five times a week can protect us from heart disease and diabetes.

    The time can be broken down into smaller chunks, so it could simply be part of your walk to and from the station, or school.

    Move4Health provides pedometers to help monitor how far you've walked, you can find much more detailed information on the organisation's website via the link on the right of this page.

    All three of our volunteers were given a pedometer on Monday 22 March. Their target was to do 10,000 steps - about an hour's worth of walking - each day.

    The highest total was Dr Mike Stroud's - with just over 90,000 steps.

    This is our guinea pigs' record of their week:

    Tessa Jowell MP
    Secretary of State for Culture

    Monday: 9,534
    I spent thirty minutes in the gym first thing, which included jogging on the treadmill, then tried to walk as often as I could during the day.

    Tuesday: 10,171
    Frantic travelling all day to the north west of England and back. Tried to walk as much as possible though - amazed and delighted I broke the 10,000 mark.

    Wednesday: 7,041
    Full day in the office doing departmental business. I walked to and from the Houses of Parliament (about a mile there and back, which took just under 15 minutes).

    Thursday: 9,570
    Another busy day in the office, walked to and from the house twice achieving just under my thirty minutes of brisk walking a day.

    I'm making a special effort to walk and take the stairs, which is making me feel so much better

    Friday: 6,256
    No time for the gym today, but made sure I walked fast from meeting to meeting in my constituency.

    Saturday: 10876
    Did a four mile walk

    Sunday: 9736
    Didn't manage a trip to the gym

    Worked out at the gym first thing for half an hour and tried to do as much as walking as possible.

    Tuesday: 10,323

    Fiona Bennison
    A working mother from Manchester

    Needs to lose several stones and, by her own admission, drinks too much and smokes.

    Both her parents have type 2 diabetes, her mother has had breast cancer, so Fiona knows she needs to change her lifestyle.

    Monday: 10,320
    I managed to do steps 10,320 steps. I didn't find it that difficult, which surprised me. I thought it would be a lot harder, but then I did have a very busy day.

    Tuesday: 9,544
    Only managed to do 9,544 steps today but considering I spent most of the day in a meeting and ferrying people around in my car, I was quite surprised I did that many.

    Wednesday 12,351
    Had a very good day today and did an amazing 12,351 steps.

    Didn't find it difficult to do but I did have rather a late night!!

    Thursday 6,002: Forgot to put the pedometer on first thing as I was rather hung over.

    Then I spent the rest of the day sitting down at work. Got back at 6.30pm, fed the kids, then several friends came round for the evening. A sorry total of 6,002.

    Friday: 13,253
    Much better today but I did have some help from Joanna as she visited me at home to go through my daily routine and we talked about what I felt I could do to achieve long-term changes

    Saturday 10,123
    In and out of supermarket stores for my job today. I used to park as close to the store as I could, but now I park as far away as possible to maximise the amount of walking.

    Sunday: 9,531
    Went for a long walk so I'm surprised the total was so low. But I did sit around chatting for the rest of the day, which goes to show that being active throughout the day clocks up just as many steps without you realising!

    Monday: 7,541
    Disaster, I was in a meeting all day. Just goes to show how you need to get up and move as often as you can rather than just sit for hours on end.

    Tuesday 10,235
    I am definitely going to keep wearing my pedometer as it's my conscience!

    Dr Mike Stroud
    Expedition specialist

    Mike is better known as Sir Ranulph Fiennes' expedition partner. He recently accompanied Sir Ranulph in his 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 different continents. Before this he has provided the medical support for a number of expeditions led by Sir Ranulph.

    Monday: 15,380
    I am enjoying wearing the monitor, I think they could be a real hit and do a lot of good.

    They certainly bring home how inactive one can be on some days. I spent Monday walking around Glasgow - walk to conference centre and back twice, then mostly sat in lectures."

    Tuesday: 8,760
    Early part of morning was lost to air travel back down from conference in Scotland.

    I then did a ward round before spending afternoon sedentary working on research papers.

    Wednesday: 7,350
    Another fairly lazy day with a bit of ward work and a lot of clinical and research meetings = total 7350 steps (10,000 must be way over many people's activity if they are predominantly office based!)

    Thursday 6,200
    Another disappointingly sedentary day with reasonable length ward round followed by sit-down meetings all afternoon and evening. I guess the only way to achieve reasonable averages is being active at the weekends.

    Friday: 10,680
    Had a 9am start instead of 8am which allowed me enough time to go for a run before work.

    Saturday: 17,540
    Started the day with a run followed by a long car journey, came back through Bath where I did the 'tourist thing', which involved a lot of walking.

    Did some gardening, a run and a fair bit of driving and sitting around

    Monday: 6340
    Despite more than 13 hours at work too much of it was sitting in meetings, writing research proposals. I need a more active job!

    Tuesday: 5520
    my lowest so far but after active morning at work I ended up in bed with flu

  • You can buy pedometers through the Move4Health website - or at your local sport shop

    Walk Yourself Fit
    Breakfast's case studies begin their attempts to walk 10,000 steps a day

    How walking can help
    Breakfast talked to Joanna Hall

    Walking for the week
    Find out whether our volunteers hit their target of 10,000 steps a day

    Hitting their stride
    We talked to the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and the woman behind Move4Health, Felicity Porritt

    BBC Breakfast


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