Baby steps, time steps, take steps … whether you are starting out on a project, keeping rhythm, or heading towards a goal, most of the time all it takes is to continue to place one foot after the other in order to succeed. I bought a wristband fitness tracker earlier this year and much to the annoyance of my family and friends, I now know the exact count of steps I take and the distance I go each day. I can recite details of my sleep pattern as well as my daily calorie burn and number of active minutes.
Sometimes I even get credit for a few steps when I have only moved my arms. I was quite surprised the first time I hit 10,000 steps in one day and the tracker momentarily buzzed a few times and flashed 10,000. I was so jazzed. Then later that same day the wristband buzzed and flashed 15,000. I ended that day with over 17,000 steps and was bone tired exhausted. I had not started out the day with a goal of walking over 15,000 steps (or 10,000 for that matter) but the sense of accomplishment I got from it was invigorating. I would like to say that I have reached 15,000 steps every day since but that is not the case. Right now I am trying to get at least 5,000 steps a day consistently and/or at least 50,000 steps a week.
Not too long ago, my husband told me about an article on fitness trackers that he read on an on-line news feed. According to this article, a study showed that over 50% of people who had bought a fitness tracker were no longer wearing it after six months. Apparently for most people, once they have assessed their activity level averages and see that they don’t fluctuate much, they lose interest in tracking their daily counts. In my day job, I deal with numbers and forecasting so I am a bit of a statistics geek. Interpreting data displayed in graphs and charts is a fascinating pursuit for me and I find that my motivation for reaching some of the activity goals is born more from the thrill of the stats than the quest to be healthier.
5,000 steps in a day may or may not sound like a lot but, for like most of us, it takes me a bit of mindful effort to achieve it. Recently I heard a segment on a radio talk show about the harmful effects of the modern sedentary life style and the other day I read an article about it in a fitness magazine. I guess it’s a hot topic these days. Mine is the classic sedentary life style with an over 2 hour daily commute to work by car and a desk bound job where if the network is down there is very little work I can accomplish. The message in the fitness article was that long periods of inactivity are harmful to our health that even regular periodic exercise cannot overcome. We need to move regularly throughout the day, hence the mindful effort to accrue 5,000 steps a day over the course of the day and not in one or two concentrated spurts. I now actual find a small bit of delight in having to purposefully walk a few extra steps whenever I can whether it be from parking in a spot further away from the entrance of a place of business or by using the restroom on the other side of the building where I work instead of the one closer to my desk. I don’t mind so much if I need to retrieve an item from my bedroom on the second floor when I was already heading out the front door to leave. I get extra steps and credit for climbing another flight of stairs.
Another important fact I learned from the magazine article on the harmful effects of inactivity was that timing of an activity was nearly as critical as the activity itself. A cited study had determined that movement after eating helped to prevent the high spiking of blood sugar that typically occurs after a meal and it is this high spiking of blood sugar that is thought to be a significant factor in many health issues, one of which being weight control. With that in mind, tonight after dinner I went for a walk. I was about 1,100 steps short of reaching 5,000 for the day. I am fortunate to live in a safe community, in a temperate climate where taking a leisurely stroll at 8pm in is possible nearly all year long. It was a nice quiet walk with just the rhythm of my steps and my thoughts for company. And, I reached my daily goal as I will have racked up over 6,000 steps by the time I go to bed tonight.