60 days in a row. That’s where I stand on my goal of reaching 10,000+ steps each day and 5 miles or more as recorded on my handy Fitbit Versa 2, my fancy pedometer of choice. Interestingly, I did not set out with any goal for consecutive days in mind when I started this string on December 15, 2019. I had just come off of a very intense period of work and travel and decided that I needed more regular exercise than experienced during my multi-month work saga.
There are, of course, other watches available, and most phones have an app that will count steps. I just don’t carry my phone with me when I’m exercising or playing sports, so the Fitbit Versa 2 works well for me. I’ve bought dozens of Fitbits for friends and family, and have influenced dozens of others to buy them on their own. One day, maybe someone from Fitbit will see one of these posts? Who knows. It is a great product. And the charge lasts 4-5 days.
Why do I try to walk 10,000 or more steps per day? I enjoy the personal challenge to keep moving. I appreciate the effect on my health, weight and diet (it influences my choices), and there is growing evidence that the health benefits are real. Like strengthen your heart, store less body fat, stabilize blood sugar, improve your brain’s performance (I can use that!), and reinforce healthy habits (we can all use that one).
The 60 Days
What is normal for daily steps/miles? Normal varies from person to person and from occupation to occupation. A server at a busy restaurant may achieve 10,000 steps on a shift of a few hours. An office worker who only goes to work, sits at a desk, and goes home at night might achieve 2,500 steps. Most of the people I know fall into the category of working in an environment where walking is the exception rather than the rule.
The statistics for 60 days are interesting, at least to me.
I have walked 351 miles in the last two months, recording a total of 745 thousand steps, for an average of 2,126 steps per mile. Since a mile is 5,280 feet, that means that each step is recorded at about 2.5 feet. Now, when walking normally and at pace, my steps are more like 3 feet plus a bit. So that means that Fitbit is recording the shorter steps as well. The averages above have been consistent for a long time.
For the last 60 days, I’ve averaged 12,415 steps per day and have walked 5.8 miles per day. On Christmas Eve, I fell a bit shy of 5 miles (4.9), but haven’t let that happen since then. I’ve hit the 10,000 steps or more every day. On my most active day, I walked 17,082 steps and 8 miles. All in all, it has been a pretty consistent run.
How to Get 10,000 Steps Each Day
Many people have asked me how I manage to get 10,000 or more steps most days. The answer is simple: I am intentional about it. If I didn’t think about the daily goal during each day, I would fall short quite frequently. So what are the “secrets” of becoming and staying active?
- Begin with an active morning. I start almost every day with an exercise and stretching routine. Part of that routine is doing what I call toe lifts. Start on the balls of your feet and dip down until your heels almost touch the floor. Then lift back up onto your toes. Then do that same thing 1,000 times, even if it takes two or three sessions to get there. This little exercise will get your heart pumping and loosen you up for the day and give you 1,000 steps. All in all, I have close to 2,000 steps by the time I get to the office most days. That’s a good start on 10,000 steps.
- Park away from entrance at office and when shopping. Little things add up when you are trying to be active. Our parking garage is quite large. My personal parking space is close to the door to the elevator door. I gave that up years ago in favor of parking farther away from the door. That difference adds steps that otherwise would be missed. When I go to a mall or supermarket or any other store, I try to park well away from the entrance. Not only does that minimize the chances of door dings from neighboring cars, but it adds a good number of steps every time.
- Get up and walk around during the day. When we have “office” jobs, it is too easy to sit at a desk all day and not move much. My Fitbit reminds me each hour that I should get at least 250 steps each hour to promote movement throughout the day. I try to take advantage of these opportunities to walk around the office or to take a short walk in the building. There are many lunch opportunities within walking distance, so I almost always walk to lunch. And after lunch, I try to tack on an extra 1000 steps or so (usually about ten minutes inside the building or outside weather permitting). The point is, when a natural break in the day occurs, take a short walk.
- Participate in active sports. I have played a form of handball for more than 40 years. A couple of years ago, I added pickleball to my regular sports activities. On days when I play handball (usually three games for an hour and a half) or pickleball (several games over a couple of hours or so), I always get my steps.
- Walk, jog, run, or run in place for 30-minutes plus at some point during the day. On days when neither handball nor pickleball is in the cards, I have to make time to take a walk. I often go to my club and walk on the treadmill. I quit running a number of years ago to help my knees last. But I often run in place, an activity I picked up in my 30’s when I had plantar fasciitis. I was unable to run for more than two years, but discovered I could run in place without pain. I continue to use this form of exercise when I’m cramped for time or space or have bad weather when travelling.
I have to say that my go-to way to achieve 10,000 or more steps per day is to play pickleball several times per week. I’ve written a bit about pickleball and will write more later.
The bottom line is that I have to be intentional to hit 10,000 or more steps and 5 miles or more per day. When I wake up in the morning, I begin, as noted, with an exercise routine that gets me started and keeps me motivated. I try to get 5,000 to 6,000 steps during the day at the office, which leaves me only 4,000 or 5,000 steps to get while playing pickleball or walking or running somewhere. That means I have to plan my day so that I can take the couple of hours to play, or the hour or so to walk before going home. When the weather is good, I go home and walk in the neighborhood.
I hope this reporting on 60 days is interesting and motivating for you. I can assure you that writing this has been motivating for me! ☺
Until next time, be well!
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