When the 10,000 steps a day ‘walking programme’ started getting media coverage, I wondered aloud to a friend how it was possible to build that amount of walking into a busy life? Next thing, a pedometer arrived in the post with the instruction to ‘give it a go’.
Setting the pedometer proved very straightforward, although putting in my body weight in pounds gave me more than a moment’s pause. Then, with the help of an inch tape to measure my stride, and a calculator, I worked out that for me, 10,000 steps meant four and a half miles a day. Yikes!
The next day, I counted paces during my usual 20 minute lunchtime walk and came up about 8000 short. How could the shortfall be made up?
Wearing the pedometer from morning to night showed that walking around the office and at home, added to the lunchtime total, brought a respectable daily 4500 – almost half way – but where to find the time and the energy to make up the rest.
The answer was really quite simple. Start small and build up. If 2000 steps take 20 minutes, then obviously 1000 steps take 10 minutes. We can all plan an extra 10 minutes morning and evening to get away from the desk or the household chores and enjoy the fresh air. Don’t just walk, staring straight ahead – you can do that on a treadmill at the gym. Whatever your route – whether urban or rural – engage with your surroundings and enjoy the plants, birds, animals and people you meet along the way. You’ll soon find your walk stretching to 20 minutes and even longer.
It is essential to walk safe, especially if alone. Winter walking morning and evening must be done in familiar, well-lit territory, and as these walks get shorter, extend the lunchtime slot if you can. Carry a mobile phone for emergencies and if possible tell someone where you are going. Sensible clothing is essential – good walking shoes, a wind- and waterproof jacket, a hat and gloves and even over-trousers.
With a little forward planning, it is all too possible to enjoy walking for around 90 minutes every day without actually interfering with your lifestyle. And it provides valuable thinking time.
Even eating a healthy diet, women ‘of a certain age’ all too often find that a little over-indulgence soon applies itself to the hips and steadfastly refuses to move. Eating my usual diet and being careful about ‘treats’, after 10 weeks I was eight pounds (four kilo) lighter and had considerably more energy as my fitness improved. I am now at the stage that if I do not get a walk every single day I find myself champing at the bit to get out – even if only for 10 minutes between showers or tasks.
Weight loss and greater fitness are just two of the benefits of taking 10,000 steps a day. Along the way you can enjoy the scenery, making new friends, both two and four legged, and the face looking back from the mirror each morning will look younger and fresher.
So why not try stepping out.