Last year I read an article that encouraged walking as a means to increase energy and improve overall health. The piece went on to outline ranges of daily steps and then linked those ranges to the type of person who might fall into each category:
Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:
1) Under 5000 steps/day may be used as a "sedentary lifestyle index"
2) 5,000-7,499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered "low active."
3) 7,500-9,999 likely includes some exercise or walking (and/or a job that requires more walking) and might be considered "somewhat active."
4) 10,000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as "active".
5) Individuals who take more than 12,500 steps/day are likely to be classified as "highly active".
I was certain I fell into the third category. What with my part-time job where I am constantly moving, plus my moderate usage of the elliptical machine, I instantly congratulated myself for my "somewhat active" status. In an effort to elevate my status to the recommended "active" category, I began wearing a pedometer.
The first morning of wearing the new gadget, I got dressed and eagerly clipped my tiny digital companion to the pocket of my pants. By the time I'd arrived at work, I'd already logged 625 steps. Wow - this was going to be effortless! I barely sat for my five hours at work, checking my faithful little counter every 20 minutes. I arrived home from work with nearly 3,000 steps under my belt (literally). As my afternoon progressed, my spunky sparkle from the morning slowly sank. I shuffled around the kitchen, putting away groceries, trotted down the stairs to the laundry room and walked down the driveway to retrieve the mail. The numbers just weren't adding up as quickly as I'd expected. By dinner time, I was only up to 3,605, which slapped me with the shameful status of "sedentary." Who exactly were these super-humans who were attaining "highly active status?" A new category would be created if I'd expended 12,500 steps: "dreadfully debilitated." I ran up and down the stairs several times and damned the despicable digits that glared back at me; I'd only gained 200 measly steps. By this time, I had no desire to climb aboard the elliptical machine and, hanging my head in defeat, threw my sedentary self into bed for the night.
I awoke the next day, firmly fixed on achieving at least "low active" status. My pie-in-the-sky illusion of living a "somewhat active" lifestyle had been shattered. Clearly I was a slug, a pariah - my lifeless lethargy should be featured on a TLC special. Since I didn't work that day, I decided 30 minutes on the elliptical would easily log a few thousand steps. The cats followed me downstairs and watched as I sweated my way through a workout. I envied their casual disregard for calories and step-counting. Here I was, fanatically focused on a prescribed number that would magically grant me the label of "healthy" and they simply lived an existence where they lounged peacefully, gobbled with gusto, and enthusiastically played. Maybe that's where I went wrong - I was so intent on achieving a label and a goal and that someone else set for me that it felt more like work than fun. Maybe I'll never be "highly active" and maybe that's ok. Perhaps when spring rolls around, I'll take more walks outside and enjoy the fresh air, take in the newly-bloomed flowers, and add a few thousand steps to my portable counter. Maybe one day, I'll even make it to 10,000 steps. Then again, maybe I'll just pack away the pedometer.
0 steps + 20.7 calories = 73289 happiness points
30-minute sentence on elliptical machinery:
2,965 steps + 100 calories = 0 happiness points
The math just doesn't add up.