Household word: 10,000 Steps in My Shoes

A Household Word By Carol Band

I was tempted to cheat on the 10,000 steps by strapping the pedometer to my ankle and shaking my foot while I watched Oprah and ate fudgesicles.

I got a pedometer for Mother's Day and hadn't taken it out of the box. I had planned to walk all summer. Instead I told myself that I was getting plenty of exercise hanging around the shallow end of the town pool yakking with the other moms and eating fudgesicles while the kids went off the high dive. Maybe the water just made me feel lighter. Anyhow - it was too hot to walk.

But now, summer's over and it's a new school year. Along with my resolution to ban video games until next June, I am also resolving to walk myself thin. Actually, I'd be happy to simply walk myself a little less fat. The brochure that came with the pedometer says that walking 10,000 steps a day will burn an extra 2,000 to 3,000 calories a week.

That's a lot of fudgesicles.

Sure, there are aerobic benefits to walking, too. But frankly, I don't really care what my left ventricle looks like - as long as my thighs are thin.

The American Council on Exercise ranks various professions and reveals that while mail carriers rack up 19,000 steps every day, secretaries take only an average of 4,327 steps at work, restaurant employees about 10,000 steps and custodians walk nearly 13,000 steps. I figure that my days most closely mirror those of a custodian or a restaurant worker so I must be logging the requisite 10,000 steps a day. Easy.

So, this morning, I clipped the pedometer to the waistband of my soon-to-be-a-size-smaller jeans and started counting steps.

I walked downstairs and made coffee (13 steps), trotted back upstairs to wake up my son Lewis (17 steps), went down to the basement to get clean laundry (21 steps), and then upstairs again to tell Lew to hurry up (15 steps). After breakfast, I ran half a block chasing Lewis with the lunch he left on the kitchen counter (52 steps), dashed through the house looking for my car keys (37 steps), went grocery shopping and powered through the produce section, meat department and frozen food section (227 steps). At home I made six separate trips carrying bags from the car to the kitchen (47 steps) and put away the groceries (4 steps). Then I went upstairs to retrieve my glasses from the bedside table (15 steps) and settled into work on the computer (0 steps). I also got up three times before lunch to let the dog out (18 steps). By noon, I had logged only a measly 466 steps. Only 9,534 steps to go.

The way I figure it, 10,000 steps is about five miles, which is approximately 80 minutes of walking. Eighty minutes! That's 40 minutes in each direction. I tell you, if I ever got 40 minutes away from my house I might never turn back.

I was tempted to cheat on the 10,000 steps by strapping the pedometer to my ankle and shaking my foot while I watched Oprah and ate fudgesicles, or clipping it on the dog's collar and letting him chase the squirrels through the back yards. Who, I wonder, other than the mailman, has time to walk 10,000 steps? Not me. No wonder my jeans were still snug.

Instead, I decided to simply walk more. After school, when I brought Lewis and his friends to soccer practice, I also brought my pedometer and my sneakers and, instead of sitting on the sidelines with the other moms or going home to start dinner, I walked around and around and around the field. During the hour of practice, I circled the field 12 times. Bringing my grand total to 6,493 steps - more than halfway to my 10,000-step goal. Only 3,507 steps to go. But hey, who's counting?