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If you have been relatively inactive, or if you suffer from any sort of chronic muscular-skeletal injuries, beginning a walking program can put you on the right track for gradual improvement of your level of fitness. Walking on a regular basis is also an excellent way to control your weight.
There are a number of other less obvious, but equally important benefits of starting a walking program. Here are some of them:

    Walking is a highly social exercise that allows you to get out and meet new people.
    It is also an economical alternative to driving your car, or even paying for public transportation.
    No special skills are required for a walking program.
    With the exception of a comfortable pair of walking shoes, no special equipment is required to start a walking program.
    Even people with health conditions can begin a walking program.
    Studies have shown that even moderate exercise can control your appetite.
    Studies have shown that even moderate exercise can enhance mood and prevent depression.
    Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent heart disease.
    Walking, especially uphill, is an excellent way to sculpt your legs.

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Choosing a Pedometer or Walking App

There is a lot of press about the health benefits of getting more walking steps into your daily routine. So, how do you know you are getting more steps?

There are several ways to measure your daily activity. The most common is a pedometer. More recently, iPhone and Android developers have put out dozens of apps that can measure and record your progress as well. So let’s take a look at some of the ways I have been measuring my daily progress lately. 

 
1. Old School:

I have measured my standard walking gait, (you can too). Mine is about 2 feet 4 inches. Since, I know this distance, I can take walks that I also know the distance of, such as from home to the train. I can divide the distance by the length of my steps. 

So, the train is 3/4 of a mile away. It take me 2,260 steps to walk a mile. Thus, a walk to the train talks 2,260 * .75. Rounded up that i s 1700 step… Voila. That is way to go old school. 

2. Mechanical/Analog:

I have used an analog pedometer, a device that measures the distance a person travels on foot. While current pedometers are precise electronic tools, this was not always the case. Actual pedometers are over 200 years old, and the concept of a pedometer still hundreds older.  Romans used tools to measure how far their armies walked. Leonardo DaVinci in the 15th century, imagined them. Thomas Jefferson is generally credited with inventing the modern pedometer. Then in 1930s it became a much more popular. In America the devices were popular with runners and with those who walked long distances.

You can find very inexpensive pedometers that use this very same technology today. 

3. Transition to the Transistor:

Most of the pedometers our there have switched over to electronic operation, this meant that pedometers weighed less and could keep a more accurate track of distance traveled. However, even these pedometers paled in comparison to modern, digital pedometers.

I have tried some of the newest breed of pedometer that quite sophisticated. Some use electronic sensors called accelerometers other use global positioning systems and a few successfully use both. Some of the ones I’ve tOried include Omron HJ-112 (~$30), Accusplit AE190XLG (~$35) and Garmin Forerunner 205 (~$180). 

4. The Modern Walker:

The most interesting development is that the new breed of smart phones contain an accelerometer and global position systems. Consequently, Android and iPhone developers have created pedometer and distance apps that can in some cases be a sturdy alternative to the stand alone electronic devices. Currently, there are several drawbacks that keep Apps from being a direct replacement to the stand alone devices, these include battery life, interruption of the counting your steps when using other features like taking a call. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to turn it back on after the call!!

That being said, they are quite fun to use; they do not require a separate device; and they provide a new level of connectivity that make them ready for social networking, sharing and fun.

I have tried several apps including RunKeeper, Walkmeter, Pedometer Pro and Footsteps. RunKeeper is primarily been designed for more active pursuits (I have used it for skiing as well as walking). It measure the distance and the time, it uses a GPS and creates maps of your journey. Walkmeter also has a mapping feature and measure distance. But neither is a pedometer in the sense that it measure steps, however, measuring things like elevation and routes is great fun and adds to the challenge.

Footsteps and Pedometer Pro are traditional in that they measure steps, but they do much more. They save your history, allow you to take notes and Pedometer Pro has a nifty Body Sizing feature. 

I also use Nike+, which combines the stand along pedometer, but with a twist of it communicating your activity to you smart phone. 

All of these apps also offers the ability to send your activities to update info on their proprietary sites, your Facebook and Twitter.

This is the part, we at MamboWalk, find the most compelling. We are most interested in social and gaming aspect, because this opens a whole new way to look at how people encourage, motivate and reward one another. So, try some of these out and see how it goes. Try making a game of it, challenge friends and reward yourself or a charity for your hard work. 

Stay tuned to MamboWalk.com for another way to make charitable giving fun and rewarding.

MamboWalk is a game you play every day to help you improve your health and make a difference in the world. Team up with friends to get fit, help charities and earn points to bid on cool stuff. Are you game? It all starts with taking that first step. 

Walking is becoming the fastest and surest way increase you healthy activities. Walking is a low-risk and simple way to get started. More importantly, it is proven that it works. An eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised. Now, I cannot promise you the fountain of youth, still, research has shown that regular walking can decrease fat, so thats a start! 

7 Steps to Get This Party Started!

If the Shoe Fits. A walking program is simple to start. Get yourself a comfortable pair of shoes designed for walking or running. Many good running stores pride themselves in providing the perfect fit (even for walkers). If you are a do-it-yourself shoe buyer, make sure you can fit a pinkies width between your second toe and the end of the shoe. Also make certain your shoe does not slide up and down on your heals. 
Walk Before You Run. This is good advice all around especially when it is walking you plan to . Start with a pace that feels like your regular walking steps. Use a pedometer to get a baseline of a normal activity day. Start by increasing that number by 20% each week. Feel free to break up your walk in to several daily events. Be good to yourself, count the step you make while in your daily routine.  
Get More Out of Your Walk. Good posture counts, keep your head up, tummy pulled in and shoulders relaxed. Otherwise, take your normal stride and swing your arms naturually, don’t overdo it. The effects come from the extra stepping activity that comes normal, much more than pushing yourself too hard. If you want to move faster, pull your back leg through a bit more quickly.
Breathing is Important. Keep your breathing at a pace where you can still hold a conversation. If you are too winded to talk, slow down. Initially, forget about walking speed. Just get out there on a regular basis and establish a habit of activity.
Winding Down. Now that your have finished your walk it is time to stretch. Bend down to touch your toes (don’t worry you don’t have to get all the way at first) will strech your calves and thighs. Reaching up and doing slow windmills will loosen your arms and chest.
Don’t Hurt Yourself. If you experience foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP and check with your doctor to find out the cause. You may need special exercises or better shoes. Don’t stop exercising altogether!
Keep Track… and Reward Yourself. As you can see, walking works and is a great way to get going. Still you should think about what you require to keep on track. 

Additionally, experts at the CDC and National Institute of Health recommend that every American adult engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity just about every day of the week. One way to meet this standard is to start counting your steps!

Remember why you are doing what you are doing!!! And if the rewards you created aren’t enough, remember a fun walking program might also:

. Improve your cholesterol profile
. Lower blood pressure
. Increase your energy and stamina
. Boost “couch potato” bone strength
. Prevent weight gain

“From the perspective of prevention, it appears that the 30 minutes per day will keep most people from gaining the additional weight associated with inactivity,” said said Cris Slentz, Ph.D of the Duke University research team in a news release.”Given the increase in obesity in the U.S., it would seem likely that many in our society may have fallen below this minimal level of physical activity required to maintain body weight.”

At MamboWalk, we think that creating incentives and rewards that benefit not only you, but have consequences beyound you, can keep you motivated on those days you need a little push. We also believe that your friends can be your best advocates and motivators.

Create rewards and challenges that give you that extra push, such as competing with a friend or treating yourself to a prize once you have completed a goal.

Welcome to Spring!

I find that every time I write ‘gamification’, my instant spell checker corrects it to ‘ramification’. Even when writing this first sentence, I had to override the spell check two times, once for gamification, and then again, when I put it in quotes. And since the word is so new, I am hesitant to include it in my spell check dictionary. Not because I think the term will go away soon. Instead, I like the fact that if I find the term via spell check it is a nice reminder of its novelty. The spell check also creates a break point to see if I really want to use the word; new buzz words can be irresistible. It is a bit of a game I have made for myself.

The term gamification in social media and marketing context is new, but the idea is ancient, tested and applicable to just about everything we do. Think about what you have done today, you have likely already created a strategy for task at work, you have raced to a train, you have rewarded yourself for a task. You have won or lost at something. And it is just lunch. We are naturally disposed to organize what we do into packets of activity that have benefit reward models built-in. It’s natural, it is how we learn, work and engage in social activities.

The folks at MamboWalk like the idea of gamification. We are challenged when thinking about it’s novelty and potential. So, we are keeping our eyes on all the ways gamification is finding it’s way into the domain of social marketing, social media … And especially social wellness and health. At the same time, what we are really interested in is making games for changing health behaviors and habits in way that is rewarding, fun and social.

Mambowalk.com is testing our newest game!!! If you would like to be invited to the next best thing in gamification, OR if you are simply interested in having fun with your friend, raising money for your favorite charity or just challenging your friends to a good walk, SIGN-UP on our website. As spot come up we will send you a code for one of the next test MamboWalk walkathons!

I think time will tell us the ramifcation of gamification, but for now let’s have some fun!

 
Even a journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step. This is a proverb most are very familiar with. To do anything new you need to get started. In the case of a long journey, it’s a step. 

Mambo Health Gaming believes that everyone aspires to be more healthy. We also believe that there are many different things that drive people to make positive health behavior changes. Even with all the different things that motivate us individually, it remains true that if we don’t find what motivates us to take that first step, we will not make it to where we want to go. Sometimes that motivation can be as simple as a nudge here and there to change our path. Small adjustments in what we do, just a little bit at a time. 

This is why we are so excited with our first product for motivating people to take on healthier habits incrementally: MamboWalk an Everyday Walk a Thon -www.mambowalk.com

 

For MamboWalk, we choose a powerfully simple activity to build our game around, a footstep. Proverb aside, you truly cannot be successful in our game with out taking steps. Steps are relatively easy to measure. When done repeatedly, steps creates large numbers that can act as currency. Increasing steps is proven to benefit one’s health. Simple!

The question is: What will make us take some extra steps today? Tomorrow? And 6 months from now?

We think the answer is different for each of us, yet at the same time have a reoccurring theme. 

START- You need to start! OK, we got that out of the way!

TREND- You need to monitor how many steps you take, do the steps again (or even more) the very next day. And so on…

FRIEND- You need to tell your friends. They will keep you on track. Engage them in what your are doing. Peer pressure works for both good and bad habits.

‘be’CAUSE- You need to finds something important to you, that is outside yourself and make them a stakeholder, like a charity. Make a promise to someone other than yourself, someone who really needs it.

CARROTS- You need to show off your accomplishments and relish small wins along the way, celebrate your successes. 

STICKS- You need consequences that are not quite punishment, but are geared to get you back on track. 

RESULTS- You need to recognize that the results are a combination of some or all of the things above.

We have used these behavior drivers all our lives to nudge our behavior to create new habits, (some of them good and some of them bad). It seems that when it comes to healthy behaviors we’ve become forgetful of how we have created progress in the past. 

MamboWalk is using the very simple measurement of STEPS and creating a powerful, fun and rewarding game. We are building in TRENDS, FRIENDS, ‘be’CAUSES, CARROTS, and STICKS that have been used for ages in creating positive behavior change.

 

There are a lot of other great books, stories and blogs about the idea of changing health behavior using Nudges, Carrots and Sticks, Friends and Trends.

At Mambo Health Gaming, we aspire to take this body of thoughtful research and create practical interfaces to make real changes in peoples lives through fun and games. 

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