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10,000 Steps a Day

It all started with the gift of a pedometer, accompanied by a note saying: You’ve been complaining that you’ve not been getting enough exercise, so this should help. Try to do the 10,000 steps everyone used to talk about.

Next day I checked the number of steps taken during my usual 20 minute lunchtime walk and came up about 8000 short.

Was it really possible to build 10,000 steps a day into a busy life? Setting the pedometer was quite straightforward – although putting in my body weight in pounds gave me more than a moment’s pause. With the help of an inch tape to measure my stride and a calculator I worked out that for me, at 5ft 8ins tall, 10,000 steps meant four and a half miles a day. How was I going to manage that? By wearing the pedometer throughout the whole day I soon realised that between my office and my home I regularly took about 2500 steps each day. My lunchtime walk provided another 2000 steps. Suddenly I was almost halfway there. If 2000 steps took 20 minutes, then obviously 1000 steps took 10 minutes. Even I could spare 10 minutes morning and evening to enjoy the fresh air and get away from the desk or household chores. It didn’t take me long to up the rate from ten to twenty minutes morning and evening, so within a week I was clocking up eight and a half thousand steps a day.

Each morning I stepped out of my bed and into my tracksuit to walk in the quiet streets around my home. Soon I was exploring different areas, different routes and, very quickly, my twenty minute walk turned into twenty-five and sometimes thirty. By the end of the first month I was regularly walking 10 to 12,000 steps a day – and finding that more and more of the clothes in the wardrobe fastened without any effort whatsoever.

I’ve always enjoyed eating a healthy diet but, like most women ‘of a certain age’, a little over-indulgence soon applies itself to the hips and steadfastly refuses to move. Eating the same diet and cutting back a little on the treats, just 10 weeks after my gift arrived I was 8 pounds lighter. I could face each day with considerably more energy and vitality as my fitness improved, and my daily walks reacquainted me with the beauties of nature in plant, animal and birdlife.

It is essential to walk safe, especially if alone. Winter walking morning and evening must be done in familiar, well-lit territory, and as these walks get shorter, extend the lunchtime slot if you can. Carry a mobile phone for emergencies and if possible tell someone where you are going. In addition I am catching up with a lot of my ‘reading’, thanks to audio books on my iPod. Walkwear can be anything from t-shirts and sturdy sandals to anorak, over-trousers and walking shoes. I soon reached the stage that if I did not get a walk every single day I was champing at the bit to get out – even if only for ten minutes – between showers or tasks.

It took me quite a time to reach my desired weight but along the way I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the scenery, making new friends, both two and four legged, and I can finally look in the mirror and see myself, and not my mother.