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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Have Now Completed Half A Million Steps With My Pedometer!

Yesterday was 30 days after I got my pedometer as part of my employer's incentive to help employees exercise more. I have reviewed the pedometer in this earlier post. In these 30 days, I have now completed over half a million steps on this pedometer.

When I initially got the pedometer, I did not know what to expect on a daily basis in terms of number of steps. Some of the material that came with the pedometer classified people from "sedentary" to "active" based on the number of steps walked per day. And according to their definition, walking 10,000 steps per day made you active.

So, initially my goal was to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. I set that up as my goal in the Health Management Software that comes with the pedometer. But very soon, I found that I was doing a lot better than 10,000 steps per day. The goal just seemed too easy for me.

The Health Management software also allows one to set goals for aerobic steps, number of aerobic walking minutes, fat burned (in grams per day), and calories burned. Initially, I set goals only for steps, aerobic walking minutes and aerobic steps. I set them up as 10,000 steps, 60 minutes and 5,000 steps respectively.

As I regularly exceeeded these goals (some days by pretty hefty margins), I initially raised the total number of steps goal to 12,500 and the number of aerobic steps to 7,500. But, after a week or so, I found myself going past these numbers on too many days too. For a goal to be effective, it has to be difficult to reach. I wanted a goal that I would have to try to reach, and would sometimes miss if I was not careful about reaching the goal.

So, I decided to raise my goal of total number of steps to 15,000 per day. I left the aerobic walking time at 60 minutes and number of aerobic steps at 7,500. I also put in goals of 25 grams per day for fat burned, and 400 per day for calories burned.

Omron Health Management Software screenshotAnd yesterday, a month after I got the pedometer, my total number of steps went past 500,000! I decided it was time to celebrate by writing about it on my blog. The accompanying picture shows the total number of steps as recorded in the Health Management Software, as well as details of 5 days with the maximum number of steps so far. The pedometer calculates distance based on the stride length entered into it, so there is no separate goal-setting for it. The goal for it is automatically calculated by the software once you enter a goal for the number of steps. The data on the total number of steps includes about a 1,000 steps from today morning (8/21/10).

My maximum number of steps has been 24,417 while the maximum number of aerobic steps has been 17,201. The number of aerobic walking minutes has maxed out at 137 minutes, fat burn has reached a maximum of 42.8 grams and calorie burn has had a maximum of 678. My aim for the near future is to go past 25,000 steps some day. Perhaps, it is time to take a hiking trip somewhere!

The next thing I have to worry about is whether the goals require some adjustment upwards. On most days, I find myself doing about 20,000 steps. On some of my most active days, the number of aerobic steps has easily exceeded 15,000. And in recent days, the number aerobic walking minutes has been closer to 90 than 60. I am seriously considering making 20,000 and 12,500 my new goals for steps and aerobic steps, and 90 my goal for aerobic walking minutes.

But there is a danger to playing with the goals too much. I don't want to be tempted to cheat just to get to my goals. For instance, running a given distance gives me fewer steps than walking that same distance because my stride length goes up when I run. Similarly, my aerobic walking time will go down when I run rather than walk. I don't want these considerations to actually prevent me from running because running 3 miles (especially interval training) is still better for my cardiovascular and aerobic fitness than walking those same 3 miles. I don't want to adjust my goals to such a high level that I take shortcuts to achieve them rather than just exercising and taking care of my fitness.

But the pedometer has certainly been a great help in motivating me to stay with my exercise goals, and do exercise even on days when I might have decided not to otherwise. It is easy to skip exercise for a day or two when nobody is keeping close track of it. When you know that skipping exercise could cause you to fall way behind on your goals (that are not just in your mind, but are being actively tracked), it makes the voices of laziness that much weaker!

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