In November of 2018, I gave myself a challenge to achieve 10,000 or more steps per day every day in that month. I worked at it and achieved the goal and reported on it in December 2018. Little did I know that on New Year’s Eve 2018, I would be almost hit by a car in my neighborhood, and that the car would run over and break my right foot (all recovered now!). I got off to a slow start with stepping in 2019, and did not hit 10,000 steps again until April 4th.
Around mid-December of 2019, just a couple of months ago, I came off of a patch of unsustainable work and travel. My exercise program, steps and pickleball, which I will write about later, suffered as a result.
A New, Quiet Challenge
On December 15, 2019 my Fitbit Versa 2 Special Edition recorded 11,177 steps (more than 10,000) for the first time after my period of over-extension. I made no commitments other than that I would try to slow down some at work and take care of myself physically.
On Sunday, February 2nd, I recorded my 50th consecutive day of achieving 10,000 or more steps per day. I didn’t plan on this personal record. It just evolved. When I hit 30 consecutive days, I looked forward to achieving 40 days, and then, to achieving 50 consecutive days…
In the statistics department:
- 50 consecutive days of 10,000 or more steps per day
- 292 miles, and an average of 5.8 miles per day
- 618,ooo steps, and an average of 12,400 per day
- Overall, my average steps per mile were 2,121, which takes into account lots of short steps walking around the office and elsewhere (as well as the longer steps of exercise or sports)
Every day of achieving 10,000 steps, I logged 5.0 miles or more. Well, with one exception. On Christmas Eve, I did 10,500 steps and forgot to check if I had hit the 5 mile mark. Actually hit 4.9 miles that day. But I’ll take credit for 5 miles anyhow!
I mentioned that I was at 49 days to my handball buddies on Saturday morning. One of them asked: “Are you going to try for a year?” I replied: “I don’t know, but I’m for sure going to try for 51 days!”
Lessons Learned or Relearned
It is always a good idea to reflect on experiences and think about lessons learned. Here are a few that some of my Generation X and Boomer friends can think about. This is not age discrimination, but it is about the fact that I’m more aware of what’s going on with me and my aging group of friends and colleagues.
- Focus. To hit 10,000 steps per day consistently, you have to be focused on the goal. An “active” day at the office will get me 4,000 steps or so.
- Intentional. If you are an adult in a sedentary occupation, you have to be intentional about your goal. For me, that means waking up every day with the intention of achieving at least 10,000 steps. Akin to focus.
- Wear the watch. I wear a Fitbit Versa 2 watch. I do too many things where I don’t carry my phone, so I can’t rely on any app on my phone. If I get 10,000 steps and it is not recorded, did it really happen? Do I know I really achieved the goal? Wear your watch of choice that syncs with your phone. If it is not measured, there is no focus or intention.
- Create an active morning. I do an exercise and stretching routine almost every morning that assures that I log around 2,000 steps before I get to work (included in my “active” office day above). That is intentional and requires focus. It is also motivating to have a good start on the day.
- Create opportunities for steps. Walk after lunch for a few minutes. When you take a break from mental stuff, walk around wherever you are for a bit. Park your car farther away from entrances of stores. Log a couple of hundred extra steps several times a day with that simple technique.
- Engage in an active sport. For years, I have played a local version of handball (similar rules on a somewhat smaller court). In January of 2016, I discovered pickleball. I play both as often as possible, with pickleball being my current preference. Some people jog. Others walk with regularity. I consider both to be active sports.
- If you are short of your goal, just do what it takes to get there. For example, as the workday ends today (day 50), I have only 4,200 steps logged. That means I will go walk or run for at least another 6,000 steps or so before dinner, because I don’t want my string of consecutive days to end at 50 days! [Note: the string did continue to 51 days. Just prior to bedtime, I’ve logged 12,000 steps and 5.5 miles for the day. So now I’ll try for 52 days in a row!]
What’s In It for You and Me?
Google “benefits of 10000 steps per day” and read some of the references. Here are five benefits (other than weight loss) from Weight Watchers.
- You could strengthen your heart (not a bad thing)
- You could store less body fat
- You could stabilize your blood sugar
- You could improve your brain’s performance
- You will reinforce good habits (always a good thing)
I’m sure that Weight Watchers placed the conditional “could” on the first four benefits, because you/we can all walk 10,000 steps per day and offset any benefits by other adverse lifestyle decisions. However, the last benefit is stated as a “will” rather than “could.” If you work regularly to achieve 10,000 steps per day, it will influence your other habits, and hopefully for the good over time.
I’ve been doing this 10,000 steps per day thing for about a decade now. It has been a good thing for me.
If you set a goal of 10,000 steps per day and fall short, just remember your goal and move back toward it.
If your schedule simply won’t allow time for 10,000 steps per day, set a lower goal, and make sure to get 10,000 steps on days where you have a bit more time. Or set a lower goal and gradually increase it as your physical condition and time allow. There is nothing magic about 10,000 steps. The magic is in movement. So make it your goal to increase your daily movement from wherever it is today.
Step out and reach your goal for movement!
In the meantime, be well.