Modern work environments make it hard to stay active. Many people work at a desk where they sit eight to nine hours a day. In addition, the time I spend traveling to and from work by car or public transport contributes to this sedentary lifestyle.
I work from home, that is, my daily job is to go to the fridge or the bathroom in my little office. Before I started walking 10,000 steps a day for a month with this experiment, I had an average of 1,500 steps a day, but only because I sometimes walked closer to 2,000 steps on the weekends than my usual 300 to 500 steps on a working day. Honestly, I did not move around nearly enough.
According to the US Department of Health, adults should seek at least 150 minutes of moderately intense workouts per week. This, according to the Mayo Clinic, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and high blood pressure.
However, this recommended training amount does not match the 10,000 steps that most fitness tracker goals are set to. USA Today has reported that adults who apply this rule of 150 minutes a week to their own lives usually go around 7,500 steps a day. Even Fitbit, a fitness tracking device known for counting steps, does not necessarily recommend 10,000 in total number of steps.
10,000 steps may not be useful for everyone
According to Fitbit's website, someone who is naturally more active might want to aim for a goal that is well over 10,000. If you are just starting, you might want to aim lower. Fitbit says you should track your normal step count for a week and use it as a base. Then add 1,000 steps to your baseline to be your step target for the next week. You can add another 1,000 steps each week until you reach the appropriate number. If you're trying to maintain weight loss, you might want to run less, but if you want to lose more weight, you can aim for a higher step count.
I did not know about it until I finished experimenting, but it explains some of the challenges I faced during my experiment, especially the first week.
The first week was a great shock to my sedentary system.
I used to use the health app on my iPhone to track my steps. But for this experiment, I invested in a wristband activity tracker. I bought that $ 30 coupon from Target, which counted my steps, ran miles, connected to an app on my phone, and even tracked my sleep patterns.
I did not reach my 10,000-step goal twice the first week. The first error occurred on the first day of the experiment. I was traveling throughout the country that day. I had to take two flights to reach my new destination, and I figured running around the airport to get to my various gates would help me easily reach 10,000 steps.
However, a time change meant that I lost two hours of my day and could not walk much in the four hours I was in the air. It turned out that my goals were not as far apart as I had planned. When I landed, I was only at 4,100 steps. I made it into a few thousand just because I was running around in my new apartment and unpacking a bit, but I was just too tired from traveling to try harder. I finished the day with 6,083 steps. It was literally miles ahead of my average, but still below what I needed.
The second error occurred on the fifth day. I reached 7,600 at the end of the day but had an unusual amount of work to do. As a writer, I have to use both hands to type and my pedometer only tracks my steps when my arm moves. I could not do it then, because I preferred my writing time to my step counting.
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For the remaining days of this first week, I managed to reach 10,000, mainly because I was moving into my flat. That required trips to Target, running back and forth to remove things from the car and clean the place up and down. It was not an ordinary activity week for me, but it helped me to get my footsteps almost every day when I went on this trip.
In the second week I had developed some step hacks
When my moving tasks were done, I had to come up with activities that I added to my normal schedule to take my steps. I could not just rely on a longer trip to help me. I started leading my little dog through the block several times a day. It took about 1,000 paces to the end of my road and back. She is small, so she could not go much longer. But the idea of accompanying her on 10 walks a day sounded ridiculous. That's why I focused on taking 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day from two to three walks.
I also bit into the bullet and went to a gym. The first day I went to the gym, I was amazed how much easier it was to turn down the stairs. Instead of having to distribute them over a whole day, I collected thousands in less than an hour.
I did the elliptical training for 30 minutes in the morning and was already at 4,600 in the morning. It helped that I did this on a Saturday, when I also planned to go to the local farmers market later. I hit my 10,000 paces at 5pm. while in the market. Two walks with the dog and a trip to my local resume later and I reached incredible 15,500 steps.
I had to get creative to squeeze myself in last-minute increments.
Also, I reluctantly dragged myself to the gym for a couple of nights. This week, I sometimes walked alone in my room at night while watching TV to reach my destination.
I just ran in my room before going to bed to take the rest of the steps I needed. I usually finished my day at about 6,000 to 8,000 steps, so I walked every minute until midnight while watching a TV show to make sure I reached 10,000.
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At some point I had to read a book for one of my writing assignments. I tried to read it on the spot, but that made it really hard to concentrate. Instead, I put the pedometer on my ankle and imitated a bicycle movement in the air to get steps reading.
It was about this time that I also started pushing in increments whenever I could while I brushed my teeth or waited for my food to finish with the microwave oven. Every bit counted.
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My two failures this week were when I ( For urgent work or because I had people) I could not rely on my nocturnal bedtime jog to complete my steps. It was definitely a crutch for me and I wanted to try to find a way earlier in the day to clear my night.
In the third week, I discovered the importance of a long, leisurely walk
My most successful day was in my third week. Not only did I go to the gym in the morning to go for a walk with my dog, but also to and from the college football game, which lasted about an hour. I reached my 10,000-step target at 2:30 pm Later, a trip to the mall and then downtown to drink something allowed me over 18,000 steps, the highest number I could reach during the entire experiment.
Encouraged by the idea that a longer walk than the one I took my dog on could bring better results, I introduced additional walks for the rest of my week. An excursion to the coffee shop here and an errand in a gift shop there or even an occasional walk to the grocery store. Sometimes I had to leave the rest in my bedroom, but I got into a better routine by taking longer walks to take more steps earlier in the day.
Last week I had a real rhythm going
My last week was definitely my smoothest. After noticing that the isolated time at the gym was not enough to make all my steps, nor were there any isolated long walks, I combined the two. An average day in the fourth week looked like this for me: wake up and walk with my dog (about 1,000 steps), go shopping or do errands (about 3,000 paces), go to the gym and work out for 20-30 Elliptical trainer minutes (about 4,000 steps), in the evening walk with my dog (1,000 steps), the last 1,000 steps in my room to run a television program.
I have not always been able to get in and out of the gym either, perhaps because I was too busy working with colleagues on a particular day or because it was raining. But for the most part, this was a successful model that took 10,000 steps each day.
I saw results of my increased physical activity.
I've always been more successful in taking my steps on weekends when I did not have to work and in general was more active. In any case, one of the biggest speeding transits I experienced on this trip waited until the end of the day to finish my steps, which sometimes caused me to work too much or was too tired to finish everything.
At the same time it was frustrating that only steps were counted. In the gym, I often did 20-30 minutes of cardio and then went to the weight machines. The US Department of State also recommends two days of weight training a week, but your pedometer does not absorb that, so I often left the gym to show less than I actually did.  I did not do this experiment to lose weight, but I lost seven pounds during the month. Part of it probably had something to do with eating better after dieting from a dietitian to administer my IBS. But another part was the fact that I was moving at all, which was a big change from my previous lifestyle. I went to the gym nine times a month, seven times more than last year.
Despite my results, I probably will not go for 10,000 steps each day
Creating 10,000 steps a day was a daunting project for me. I was very conscious when I was not close enough and often stopped work to go to the gym, go for extra walks and jog in my room. It has made the weekdays pretty stressful.
Next, I want to go for the 150-minute workout a week model, which leads to about 7,500 steps per day. I think 7,000 steps are pretty good for a weekday. On the weekends, however, I would like to go for more than 10,000, because it is easier to get involved in these days. Maybe I will start with 12,000.
I am happy to be able to take off my fitness tracker because it does not always match every outfit, but also because of its shortcomings. I want to go to the gym and one day do nothing but weights and still feel fulfilled, even though my pedometer would not have followed it.
To get well and get well, you need to get moving and vary your training. I try to add more cycling, running, cardio equipment, weights and yoga to my daily routine, in addition to walking to make sure I train all aspects of my body and not just step on the sidewalk with my feet.
10,000 steps are a nice goal, but not the nuts and bolts of exercises. It's about finding a plan that suits you and your lifestyle, whatever that looks like.