Friday, 10 April 2009

Counting steps - three months in

I am pleased to be able to say that I have kept up my step counting for three months and I have worked out I think how to meet the 10,000 a day target in my own circumstances.

I used the first month to understand my baseline level of steps. Because I work from home this was shockingly low: about 2500 a day if all I do is work in my office and wander round the house. However, by dint of a few walks around the local streets and a decision already taken to go out walking in the country twice a week rather than our usual once, it was possible to reach an average of 9,000 steps a day by the end of January.

February involved much more work in other locations, mainly London, and now it was much easier to meet the 10,000 target on individual days. I followed obvious tactics like getting off the tube one, or preferably two stops, before my destination, walking down stairs and escalators (walking up can wait for now!), and parking further away from my destination when in the car. The new philosophy is essentially that "further away is better"- obvious, but it is a real mental shift from the way I and probably most people previously operated. February's daily average was 9,500.

March involved continuing these strategies and yielded a daily average of 10,050. The only extra thing I did was to try to increase the daily minimum to 5,000. This was not completely successful, but at least the proportion of sub-5,000 days went down. So far in April, I have managed at least 5,500 steps every day. I hope to continue to keep pushing this up.

It has been quite satisfying and I think I have avoided becoming obsessive (I would accept "mindful"). I feel a bit fitter and I did lose a few pounds initially. They have crept back though.

My personal conclusions so far:
  • Get a good, simple reliable pedometer.
  • Establish the baseline, so you know what you have to change.
  • Move to a "Further is better" philosophy to replace the previous "economy of effort" one.
  • Try to gradually increase the minimum.

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