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10,000 steps

By Heather Oman

Our ward’s enrichment meeting this month was all about “A Healthier You”. I must say, it was excellent. Nothing namby pamby about it, and the RS even brought in outside experts to teach us stuff. A pilates class, a weight training class, and a cop to teach us how to defend ourselves and make our homes safer. Like I said, excellent stuff.

They also handed out pedometers–cheap freebies that are supposed to measure the steps you take. And in one day, you are supposed to take 10,000 steps.

I now have a new obsession.

I clipped the little gadget on my waist last night before I went outside to play with my son, just for kicks. I now know that playing foursquare for a half an hour with neighborhood kids is 255 steps.

From my front door to my kitchen is 7 steps. Although I have to say, this cheap pedometer only measures the steps that one leg takes, so that means it really is 14 steps from my front door to my kitchen, right? Hmmm….it does get a bit confusing…..

I clipped it on to go to the store this afternoon, curious about how many steps I took going grocery shopping, and wondering if I could add up all the steps I take in a month at a grocery store, and then convert that into miles, and then hopefully take the entire month off from running/walking/yoga when the number came back as high as, say 200 miles. I mean, c’mon, I must do at least that each month. Especially if you count when I have to chase my two year old when she escapes from the cart and goes running down the cereal aisle giggling like a maniac.

Sadly, I have to report that in the course of strapping said 2 year old in the car and loading the groceries, I accidentally reset the pedometer. Dang. Now I’ll never know if shopping on double coupon day actually does equal running a marathon.

But having a pedometer is not only feeding my addictive personality. It’s also making me feel a little bit inadequate. Yes, I can be surprised that it took me 200 steps to put away the groceries, but if we are talking 10,000 steps a day, I have to put away the groceries like 500 more times to get close to that. The very thought is a little depressing.

The REALLY sad thing is that I consider myself a pretty active person. Nothing like a cheap pedometer to make one realize that she is, in fact, a human slug.

I have some ideas of my own about how to be more active, but I want to hear some ideas from the rest of you. How do you stay active? Do you think you take 10,000 steps every day? Are there simple ways of incorporating aerobic exercise into your day that doesn’t involve getting up at the crack of dawn and killing yourself for 5 miles, ala Justine?

For what it’s worth, I have discovered that the shower is a great place to do calf raises while you wait for the conditioner to work on your hair. Other than that, though, I’m all out.

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

27 thoughts on “10,000 steps”

  1. I just moved way closer to work and bought a bike, so now I get 6 hilly miles in any day that I ride. But it's just so easy to justify sleeping for the extra 20 minutes my driving commute no longer has.

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  2. I have 5 unused pedometers languishing in my drawer. I've read you need to do at least 5 miles worth of steps to accumulate 10,000. I walk about 3.5 miles as exercise and try to take into account my general walking for locomotion (walking in the grocery store, walking to pick up the kids from school, etc). I probably do 6K-7K steps a day. I'm OK with that.

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  3. It sounds like you're using the pedometer as an excuse not to exercise and not as a motivator. If you're happy with your shape, that's fine. If not, then you need to be pushing the number each day. I worked at the Family History Library, and I went home each day exhausted. One day, I wore a pedometer and discovered that I walked 12 miles. I was very effective that day. These days, I hardly move from the same room. In fact, I struggle to get myself to stay at my desk and write my thesis. Some day soon it will be over . . .

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  4. I don't those things really work, because I counted my steps while walking once and the pedometer was off by a third. And as much as I would love to walk off my baby weight that way, I'm afraid for me, sweat is required.

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  5. I've worn a pedometer on and off for, hmm, must be almost 10 years. Whenever I come back to it after a break, it's always a little shocking just how many steps these little legs take on a regular day. And just knowing I'm wearing it makes me much more active.

    You might want to get a slightly nicer one, Heather, that's not quite so easy to reset, and yeah, it should also count steps with both legs…not one.

    And mormonhermitmom, any decent pedometer allows you to set your stride length, which is extremely easy. Then the counting is pretty close, if not dead-on. The cost is under $10.

    Oh, and why do I take a break every so often? After a while, it becomes too all-consuming, neh…obsession. So I toss it in a drawer and become a slug for a while. But I always come back to the little black clicking thing.

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  6. I don't have any good tips for you but I also had a cheap pedometer that I wore in New York City one day. I went to use the restroom at the Staten Island Ferry terminal and accidentally flushed the pedometer into the Hudson River (or wherever). I was looking forward to finding out how many miles I walked one day in the Big Apple.

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  7. Dare I admit what a geek I am? I have a treaddesk— an elevated desk over a treadmill. You can buy the real ones for $2000 but we bought a $100 treadmill in the want ads and a few pieces of plywood to put mine together. I do a lot of photography and writing and this gets me on my feet.

    I do the waking up at the crack of dawn thing too, but I love the bonus miles on my treadmill.

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  8. Gardening is great exercise and pedometers can't count it. In fact when I walk outside I usually end by pulling a few weeds, what a great stretch!

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  9. I used to be obsessed with getting to 10,000 steps every day, too! But I'd wear it running in the mornings, which would get me off to a seriously good start.

    Now it sits in a drawer and I'm on to a heart-rate monitor. I keep checking my heart-rate and trying to make it higher so I can burn more calories.

    And Michelle L, I've seen those desks, and wondered if anyone actually owned one! Good for you! I think I'm too clumsy to do two things at once.

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  10. #8, thanks for correcting my math. Perhaps I should buy a calculator as well 🙂

    And I'm not using it as an excuse not to exercise, or a motivator, or anything at all, really. They just handed them out for free, and I was curious to see where I fell on the spectrum. Clearly, I'm less toward the "in shape" side than I thought.

    But it sounds like a real pedometer could be a good motivator. Anybody else have success with them?

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  11. You can't measure both legs. There's overlap in the left and right step, so if you counted the steps from both legs you would get a distance that was longer than what you actually traveled. By measuring one leg, you get the exact distance you've traveled.

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  12. I have two pedometers. They both count amazingly accurately how many steps I take. I end up taking about 7000 without exercise–so if I walk for a bit it kicks it up to 10000. If it isn't working, you could try a strollometer if you exercise with your kids.
    Is it a motivator though? Not sure. I don't count steps when I run–just miles, and don't use the pedometer.

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  13. Oooo. I think a pedometer would be really interesting (and motivating, for me, anyway).

    Ideas to move more: park farther away and walk the extra 200 feet. Take the stairs. See if you can live without your car for a day. Plan to exercise every day. The every day thing really works for me. Then, when I have one or two days a week that are really busy, I can just let it go, knowing that I've put in my time five other days that week.

    I also really love Martha's Whole Living/Body + Soul magazine and website. It sometimes veers into substitute spirituality (which I don't like) but mostly has calm, sensible, simple ideas for better eating and better health.

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  14. I woke up this morning and went for 4 invigorating miles, so I don't know about the killing yourself over 5 thing.

    As for incorporating more exercise into my life, I do a lot when I'm doing something that involves just standing – doing dishes, curling my hair, waiting in lines. I do heel raises and toe taps to strengthen my legs. I also do a lot of belly dance moves (I do those when I'm at home standing, not when I'm out standing). Those include belly rolls and pelvis tucks. It's amazing what kind of workout you can get for your abs or calves just standing in the bathroom for 20 minutes getting ready in the morning.

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  15. I don't have a pedometer, but I do have a dog that requires a daily walk (or she would drive us absolutely bonkers), so I get my daily exercise by taking her for a half hour walk. I do this even when it's snowing–I know, I am crazy–but it has really forced me to exercise, so she has been good for me. Now I look forward to my morning walks–it's my chance to ponder as well as exercise. But I don't know if I'm getting enough exercise–maybe I should get a pedometer to see how many steps I'm actually getting in in a day.

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  16. I had a pedometer challenge at my last job with a couple of friends and I found it motivating to find ways to walk instead of drive. Work was only 6 blocks away, but if I was in a rush I would drive; during the pedometer challenge I would walk no matter how late I was becoming. If I did not purposely exercise, however, I could not get over 10,000 steps. For me it took walking 40 minutes a day (work, back, work, back) and exercising for at least 30 minutes. As many times as I have tried to get around it, planned exercise is really the only way I can get those steps in.

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  17. Ellen, that is too funny becuase I just accidently dropped mine in the toilet today! I rescued mine, however, but the jury is still out on whether its going to survive the immersion.

    I LOVE my pedometer (and it definitely feeds the obsessive part of my nature, although I've toned it down a bit). It does seem to matter which type–I've had three–two Omrons (around $15) and one other, can't remember the brand, but I couldn't get it to measure accurately. the Omron one I have has an adjustable sensitivity so if you count your steps and find that it is over-counting, or under-counting, you can adjust how sensitive it is. I find I can get it within 5 steps for every 100 which is close enough for me.

    I do find it motivating and I will sneak in extra steps. Also, although I try to do "real" exercise each day (run or walk a few miles), it is really encouraging when I see that a day of cleaning can get me over 10,000 steps (vacuuming and mowing the lawn are both awesome exercise!). And I've actually become less efficient at folding clothes–I run a couple items upstairs at a time and then fold the next couple, etc. . . Gets a great mini workout in (I only do this if I'm not doing an official workout that day and need to make up the steps).

    I've been wearing a pedometer most of the time since having my daughter 5 years ago and I notice a huge difference when I go a few weeks without it. I just stop trying as hard.

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  18. So, where do you buy a real pedometer? At Target? It sounds like they are in the $10-15 range. Is that about right?

    All of these comments are actually getting me pretty interested in getting a real pedometer. I know that it would get me motivated to really get my exercise in, although I LOVE the comments about exercising during your daily routine. And mowing the lawn is a definite work out!

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  19. I wonder if lifting children could count as exercise — we definitely increase the pounds lifted as they grow!
    Sadly, my littlest (and last) is getting too big to lift — guess I'll have to hit the gym :-).

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  20. 1)stop looking for the "best" parking spot. Take one further out and walk a little more.

    2)avoid elevators at all costs.

    3)push mower. Yeah, same amount of walking as gas/electric, but you get a better workout (and you can do it any time of day without annoying the neighbors).

    4)if there is any place you go that is within a reasonable distance (eg: your church if you're anywhere in SLC/Provo, kids' school) that would just require you to leave 15 minutes earlier in order to walk there and back, do it.

    5)pretend gasoline is $15.00 a gallon. that will add a little motivation.

    Just some ideas. Good luck! ♥

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  21. When I taught middle school in a very poorly planned (and big) building, I was on my feet all day and doing a lot of walking. I was exhausted everyday. I was SO SURE I got those 10,000 steps at work, but when I wore a pedometer I realized I was nowhere near!

    I like a lot of ideas people have about walking more. I purposely live someplace where I can walk to church, the library, and some stores, but a lot of suburban planning is not conducive. If I were you, I would pick out some motivating spots to go for a walk. I used to get tired of the same old walks around my house, but a quick drive down to the Erie Canal, and I can walk for miles. Or a local or state park, or downtown. Anything that is new to your eyes.

    Can you tell I am the kind of person who needs to pretend I am NOT exercising in order to exercise?

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  22. This is too funny. A friend handed me a cheapy pedometer on Tuesday because I had been talking about buying one. I have yet to be able to log all my steps in one day because something happens and it resets! I'm obsessed with it, too. And I found out even when I walk the 2 miles up hill in the morning, it really isn't enough walking. That logs just under 5000 steps and it takes another 2-3 mile walk to log 10,000 steps and then I can relax and let the rest of the errands and house work be "exta". It's totally depressing to know I have to walk 4-5 miles everyday or I'm considered a slug. But now I know it, I'm doing more walking. Good luck. The heart rate monitor sounds like something I need to check into…. 😉

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  23. Kim mentioned the Omron HJ 105. I've owned it in the past and liked it. However, Omron has two newer pedometers, the HJ 112 and HJ 720 that I like even better. Both use an accelerometer to count steps, so not only are they very accurate, you can put them in in a shirt or pants pocket and they still count steps. The HJ 720 takes it a step further and lets you upload your step count to a computer to make charts and graphs of your progress.

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