My Walking History….

I’ve been playing with a pedometer and trying to get more steps into my day for several years now.  Some years have definitely been better than others – one of those things I’ve just had to accept during the times when my health has slowed me down.

My first pedometer was a cheap one that came in a box of cornflakes that I bought specifically for the step counter.  I still have a notebook somewhere around here where I wrote down my day’s steps every night before pressing the reset. Sometimes it would reset itself during the day (Oh, woe is me!).  The cheapy ended it’s life when it fell into a toilet when I was shopping at the mall. Considering it was just a cheap thing that maybe would have cost $3 at the time, I was devastated. It started a hunt for something better that wouldn’t get lost. I tried several that I could keep in my pocket and eventually my new smart phone, a Nokia N95, took it’s place.

I had the phone for a few years and had become quite used to take it everywhere with me, and relying on it’s records so I didn’t have to jot down my daily step count. I like it. Fast forward a few years and my new phone was of the Apple kind. There were apps that were step counters but in order to work, they had to be running in the foreground. That was a bit useless, so I went looking for real pedometers again.

Had a good day
I eventually ended up with a FitBit One, which I wore either in my pocket or for other times when I had no pockets, on a lanyard. The online Fitbit site kept track of my step history. Today I wear a Fitbit Charge so I don’t have to worry about pocket or lanyard issues and it does a better job at sleep tracking than the One ever did.

Trying something different…

So I have a little bit of experience. The thing I don’t have is a high daily step count. For a few years, I maintained about 5-6,000 steps a day by taking a long walk around the neighbourhood. The thing that always bothered me about this was the feeling that I could/should be doing something more constructive, or that I was missing out on doing other things at home. In the last couple of years, I took shorter walks and my daily step count goal was down to between 3 and 4000 steps a day.  I’ve had a long standing issue with low hemoglobin and anemia which has made doing lots of things very tiring. It’s a wee better at the moment.
Today, my average step count is now closer to 6k a day, but I’m not leaving home to do it. I’ve made it a mission to prove to myself that I don’t have to leave home or use a treadmill to get a decent amount of steps in each day. To my surprise, it’s working, and rather well. So the rest of this post is about the things I’ve learned in making this work. For some folks, this might be a given, but it certainly was illusive for me, and I’m probably not alone.

Wear walking shoes

When I get up and get dressed (sometimes these two things can be hours apart), I put my walking shoes on. This is a cheap pair of shoes I bought several pair of at Kmart when they were on sale. I have full gel pads (from eBay) inside them. It might not work for everyone, but when I have shoes on, it automatically puts me into a psychological  ‘Go’ mode. It also means if I have to go outside for something, I’m ready. This was one of the first changes I made when deciding to try walking around the house to get my step count in, and it definitely works for me.  I accept this may not be helpful for some folks, and if not, don’t worry about it, go barefoot! Or naked!  (Just kidding)

Pick a path

Walk around your house, look for places that offer a long stretch where there aren’t many turns.  I have two of these. The first is the hallway that goes from our front bedroom to the laundry room. I can walk from the window on the far side of the bedroom all the way to where the washing machine is in the laundry. So I play ‘tag’ with these two spots. I also have a relatively straight shot from our middle bedroom, through the kitchen and into the office where my desk is. I can walk either choice and end up with around about 50 steps.  If I mix the two together, I end up with about 100 steps per ‘circuit’. Do that ten times (pretty easy) and you’ve got 1,000 steps in.
 
Repeat that a few times over the course of the day, and you’ve reached your step goal for the day.
 

Pace yourself

I usually set short term goals when I start a new walk, such as “I’m going to walk around the house until I reach the next 500 (or 1000) steps”.  This gives me a something I know I can do in the next few minutes without it taking up all of my time and energy.  Just ambling around the house in an organised way takes me about 15 minutes per 1000 steps.  This may be less, but I’ve been the charts on Fitbit to determine how far I’ve walked in that time and it tends to have a spike when I go on these little jaunts that lets me see what I’ve done.
 

Make it a routine, build it into your day

This is where having my shoes on until I’ve reached my step goal comes into play…  It helps remind me that the shoes are on for a reason.  I try to do stuff at my computer in half hour stints and then follow that with another walk session.  This has an advantage in making sure I don’t spend too long in one position at the computer, and the 15 minute walk lets me do a few household things or clear my mind before returning refreshed to the computer again.
One night it was a bit late in the evening and I knew I needed to get my steps in for the day so I chose to do 1000 steps at a time while my other half was watching the TV. I made sure my chosen ‘circuit’ included being near enough to the TV so I could still hear and see it as I made my way around the house. I didn’t miss anything. I took a few 10 minute breaks here and there to watch something but went back to it, and it really didn’t take long before I could kick off the shoes and declare myself done for the day.

After awhile, you might find yourself doing laps around the house when you weren’t intending to – it just happens. I think for me, it’s just an extension of the ‘what did I come in this room for?” and then just carrying on walking!

Whoo Hoo! 6,200 StepsThe thing I like with the silly house walking is I don’t feel resentful – I’m not missing anything. If something needs doing I can do it, I don’t do it long enough to get bored.  I also do other things while taking my circuits around the house.  Sometimes it might take a few laps to finish though. For example, emptying the dishwasher a few dishes at a time before continuing on my walk (and the same for filling it up), or folding something in the laundry room each time I pass by.  Tonight I filled up my Sodastream bottles and fizzed them up – a process that took a few goes during my walk, but got it done and out of the way.


A few more hints and suggestions…

 

Don’t keep looking at your Fitbit (or other pedometer) for your step count. It’s like watching the clock. If you resist the urge, the numbers just magically go up and up. If you’re looking every few minutes it can be annoyingly slow in changing.  I look about every two or three ‘laps’ if I can resist the urge.  One thing I’d love for the Fitbit to have is an incremental goal. Like give my wrist a little buzz each time I reach another 1000 steps.

 

Set a reasonable daily step goal for yourself.  Unless you’re already super fit and active, keeping your goal at 10,000 steps and not reaching it can be disheartening.  Start with something you know you can do, then after you’ve reached that goal several days in a row, increase the goal by another 1000.  And repeat.  I’m up to 6000 steps a day, and as long as I’m able to hit this daily, I’ll update to 7000 next week.

If you’re a bit of a data freak like am, you can also track your steps on Runtastic and / or MyFitnessPal.  I use the spikes that show on the Fitbit dashboard for when I’ve been walking for 15 minutes. If you hover over the spike in the graph for distance, it will show you how far you’ve gone. I average about half a kilometer for each 15 minutes when I’m doing the silly house walk. I take note of the beginning time and add that along with the distance into a new entry manual entry on Runtastic. Because my Runtastic account and MyFitnessPal are connected, so the entry automatically updates MFP.  The only downside is that because Fitbit is also linked to these two, it seems to pick up the MyFitnessPal active time and add it to it’s own. But it doesn’t seem to double the calories burned so that’s good.

 
 
I’ll leave you with a comment from a friend after I’d told her about my silly little plan that seems to be working…   “Thinking you have to leave home or use treadmill to reach your step goal is making excuses instead of just doing it!”  Amen, sister.

 

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