It's been a number of years since I participated in the 3-Day. (And given the recently revealed nature of the leadership and financial wastefulness of the organization, I'll probably never participate in another Komen-sponsored event, but that's another post.) Since then, I have gradually gotten *out* of the habit of walking intensively. Oh, I still walk, but I have a sedentary job, and I don't force myself to go out walking the way I did when I was in training.
Cut scene to a few weeks ago, when I read an article in the New York Times about the effects of walking 10,000 steps a day (or more) compared to walking less than that. It seems that the 10K mark is the cutoff point for all sorts of beneficial metabolic effects. Walk 10K steps a day or more, and your metabolism is higher, your blood sugar doesn't spike after meals, and a long list of so-ons. Walk less, and even if you're in really good shape, your metabolism goes all "meh" within just a few days.
Huh, I thought. That's interesting.
What was even more interesting was the American average of daily steps taken: 4,300. That's ALL DAY, walking around to the bathroom, doing chores, commuting, everything. Not just concentrated exercise, but every single step a person takes between getting up in the morning and going to bed at night.
Which led me to two thoughts:
- Wow. If 4,300 steps per day is the AVERAGE, how many fewer steps must some people take, to balance out all those folks who regularly run/walk/etc? And how is it even *possible* to take so few steps in the course of a day?
- Waitaminute. I wonder how many steps per day *I* take these days?
It's an interesting question, because as I said, I work in a sedentary job, and most of my outside interests are also relatively sedentary. Okay, well maybe not *most*, but writing = butt in chair; photography = some walking around taking pictures followed by processing the digital images, i.e., butt in chair; gardening = well, not butt in chair except when I'm drooling over seed and plant catalogues, but at this time of year with its unpredictable weather, it's not a regular bit of exercise, either. I do go to the gym at least twice a week, but even I know that's not enough. And while I walk from the bus stop to work and back, that's not a huge distance, either.
So you know what I did, of course. I bought a very cheap pedometer and clipped it onto my pocket.
The good news? Even in my current not-terribly-active life, I still average well over the American reported average of 4,300 steps per day. I've usually got about 2,000 steps in just by the time I sit down to my desk in the mornings.
The bad news? I'm below that 10K per day average. Granted, there are certain activities I do (indoor rock climbing, cycling) that don't register on the pedometer. (No big surprise that a pedometer doesn't keep track of "steps" when those steps are going more-or-less straight up and/or aroundandaroundandaround.) But still, I'm averaging less than that magic number, so to speak. (And yes, I'm aware that everyone's number will be different.) By and large, over the course of a week I'm averaging about 8,000 steps per day. Which is pretty pathetic, really.
Fortunately, I have a gadget now that tells me what a slug I'm being. And like many people, I can be motivated by numbers. Just by putting on a pedometer, I am walking more. (I like seeing that number go up. I'm easily amused. This is not news.) And now that I know what the facts are, I'm starting to strategize how I can get more walking in every day.
To be specific, I'm curious to see what the effects of walking for five minutes every hour during the workday is on my daily steps average. Five minutes isn't a long time, but it's enough to get my blood moving, which is the whole point. And with more and more articles proliferating recently about how sitting for hours at a time is really, really not good for you, it's an experiment worth doing.
What about the rest of you? Any ideas, tips, strategies, etc? How many steps do you think you take per day? And are you interested in/motivated to increase your totals?