Blog · Fitness

10K steps a day?

One of my biggest pet peeves is spending time with someone who is constantly checking their phone. It’s rude, right? Even if it is for business or some other (seemingly) legitimate reason, it’s inconsiderate of the people you’re with

A couple weeks ago Mark and I had the rare opportunity to enjoy a dinner out together. Alone. At a table near us sat a man with who appeared to be his wife and two grown daughters. All three of the women were glued to their phones while the man sat there. Perhaps we should have invited him to join us.

When Eve and Vera were born, Mark and I purchased our first smart phones and got setup with the unlimited talk, text, and WIFI data plans on Republic Wireless (a great choice for the money conscious crowd). I fell in love with my phone. I make my grocery lists on my phone, reply to emails on my phone, read my favorite blogs on my phone. It’s cool and convenient.

In the spirit of not becoming addicted to this little piece of technology, I deleted the Facebook app. I found myself checking it mindlessly throughout the day, and the fact that I took time to do that while my kids played nearby or my husband was home from work bothered me. So now that temptation is removed.

The one app I do check constantly is the FitBit app. I’ve talked about my FitBit before and how I love that my Charge HR automatically detects my cardio workouts. It’s great for tracking trends, like my resting heart rate, and for keeping me honest about the amount of activity I do in a day.

Last night I opened the app and realized the battery on my Charge HR was very low. So I waited until we put the girls to bed and then I took it off and plugged it into its charger. Why did I wait, you may ask? Because I knew once the kids were in bed I’d sit on the couch and move very little before going to bed myself.

In fact, I almost waited to charge the thing until I was done puttering around the kitchen. Seems a little ridiculous, I know. It’s like my steps only count when I’m wearing my FitBit, so if I’m not wearing it I can’t move. Oh, the funny ways my mind works sometimes.

All of this got me thinking – why do people put so much emphasis on taking 10,000 steps a day? In my opinion, it’s not a straightforward answer.

10k-steps-a-day

First of all, I think we can agree that movement is good. So many of us sit at desks, get around in cars, and enjoy time with friends around a table – eating food. Our lives seem to naturally bend toward being sedentary. Setting a step goal is a good way to make sure we don’t allow this sedentary behavior to subconsciously take over us; we should not be sedentary most of the time.

Second, there are many health benefits to walking. A brisk walk raises your heart rate, keeping your cardiovascular system strong. It also requires strength and stamina. Standing up and moving around after sitting for a prolonged period of time helps to clear your mind and re-energize you so you can better focus on your next task.

Third, if you’re anything like me, you’re competitive with yourself. You like a physical challenge. Unless my body is really telling me “NO!”, I find reasons to get up and move, feeling a sense of satisfaction when my FitBit buzzes to notify me that I’ve hit my step goal for the day. Somedays it feels like more of an accomplishment than others but I am always proud of myself when I hit it.

But, is it really worth stressing out over? After all, 10,000 slow steps are not the same as 10,000 fast steps. 10,000 steps climbing a mountain are not the same as 10,000 steps walking around the house. You have to wonder whether the stats the FitBit app spits out at you are really worth it. (Just for the record, yes, I think they are worth it.)

To prove my point, here are a few screenshots from my FitBit app.

This shows the steps I took the weekend Mark and I spent in Colorado. We took a lot of steps in a few days. What the number doesn’t tell you is the amount of effort that went into each step.

Weekend steps tracked by FitBit

This shot shows what an almost normal weeks looks like for me. Some days I take many more steps than others, but it all balances it out.

FitBit steps tracked during an average week

This one shows what the last few days has looked like for me. As you can see, I haven’t met my step goal once. My pregnant body was protesting for a few days so I spent more time resting than pushing myself to move.

FitBit tracks steps in a lazy week

And this crazy range of steps-per-day and amount of activity in each week is perfectly OK with me. Because I know when I’m just being lazy and on those days, the number staring back at me is highly motivating.

If you don’t have a FitBit or other fitness tracker, I am not suggesting that you go out and get one just for the sake of tracking the number of steps you take each day. If you’re not already motivated to get moving, then wearing a fitness tracker probably isn’t going to change that. And that leads me to my main point.

It’s not about the number of steps you take each day, it’s about movement.

And quality movement, at that.

Some exercises, like lifting weights, don’t count toward your step goal but DO count as a life goal. Keep the bigger picture in mind and focus on moving well when you do move. Be mindful of the little things, like your posture and the way you walk across a room. Doing this will force you to use your muscles and will improve your overall appearance. Yes please, for being graceful!

To sum it up…

If you’re sedentary, having a step goal is a great way to help you get moving. If you’re health conscious, having a step goal can be a fun way to keep you going and find reasons to stay on your feet. Having a step goal is not going to magically change your life. It’s just one way of thinking, one small factor, that can help make a big difference.

Here’s my challenge to you.

Find a way to move your body every day this week. It can be walking, yoga, dancing, swimming, lifting weights, or whatever else you want to do. It doesn’t have to be high intensity and it doesn’t have to be impressive. It just has to be constant movement for 20 minutes or more.

Leave a comment or report back on Facebook to let us know how it’s going. You CAN do this!

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