Tracking daily steps.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been doing a “Step-Up” challenge – it’s a program through my health insurance that gives incentives and rewards for doing activities and appointments related to maintaining health. I was sent a basic pedometer that counts my steps. For the first week, the goal was 5,000 steps a day; for the second, 7,500, and for the third, 10,000. The goal is to do that number of steps roughly 6 out of 7 days a week. As a reward, I get points that I can put towards buying items in a catalog.

I’ve been doing some extra exercises and weightlifting (hand weights) in anticipation of my wedding. I figured that it might be a good opportunity to try this challenge to increase my level of overall fitness.

What I’ve found:

  • This particular pedometer isn’t the most sensitive to movement other than basic forward steps. This means that it was erratic when counting steps during a Nia class, where I step forward, back, to the side, etc. Maybe other step-counters and exercise monitors are more accurate. However, they also aren’t free.
  • This challenge gave me more reasons to spend time outside. Since Nia is my primary exercise form, sometimes I don’t get outside much, except for maybe a weekly hike. Also, since it’s summer, I tend to spend more time inside due to the heat. I would sometimes take walks around the neighborhood and in local parks in the cooler mornings or evenings. There are a lot of beautiful flowers around the neighborhood this time of year. When I see another walker, it’s almost like we share a kind of kinship, even if we’re still strangers.
  • I’ve had past experiences where people would say things like, “you need to step up!” when I was struggling. Doing something called a step-up challenge helped soften these past associations.
  • It was easier for me to do the 5,000-7,500 range. I had to be more creative during the week with the 10,000 steps/day goal. That meant some random pacing in the house in addition to other walks and forms of exercise. It was fairly easy to meet that goal on days where I would hike, but less on others.
  • I read here that 10,000 steps is more of an approximation, that at least 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day is the recommendation to receive increased health benefits.
  • The more I move, the more I want to move. I have been feeling a little more restless. I would say that my amount of exercise the past three weeks has increased my stamina and endurance overall. I also subbed three full Nia classes and it was easier to keep my energy up.
  • I would say that the benefits of the Step-Up Challenge outweighed the downsides, although I sometimes noticed myself concentrating more on how many steps I was taking than on the actual activity. I was consistently checking the pedometer. I sometimes had to bring myself back to being mindful and noticing the details of the world around me.

There’s an option to do a nine week challenge. For that one, I’d get to choose in the beginning between three options for my daily step goal. Based on my knowledge from the past weeks, I’d probably chose 7,500 . For now, I’m going to give myself some time without the pedometer. I haven’t worn it today and I keep feeling like I’m missing something. It’s also been a relief not to worry about how many steps I’ve taken today. It’s also gratifying to know that in the course of 3 weeks, I averaged around 8,200 steps per day and gained more strength and endurance.


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