Q: I read your latest Denver Post blog on walking and pedometers and I actually have two questions. First, even though I’m a busy mom of two tweens, I rarely come even close to walking 10,000 steps in a day. So what other ideas do you have for building steps into my already packed days? Also, my 12-year-old asked – and I did not know the answer – just who invented the pedometer? – Meredith; Conifer, CO
A: These are great questions. First, I’ll give you a little more background about pedometers. They were actually invented hundreds of years ago by Leonardo DaVinci, and made their way to America during colonial times via Thomas Jefferson. But it was Japan that commercialized the pedometer in 1965, calling it “Manpo/kei,” meaning “10,000 steps meter.” The goal of walking 10,000 steps a day is a rough equivalent to the Surgeon General’s recommendation to do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.
Secondly, I sympathize with you about not being able to find the time to add steps. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish the myriad tasks on most busy moms’ do lists, much less squeeze 10,000 steps into the day as well. However – and I can’t emphasize this enough – your health should never be put on the back burner. Joe Brady, a colleague of mine and a Doctor of Chinese medicine, has a saying, “She who waits until the 11th hour to take care of her health usually dies at 10:59.” I’m glad you’re looking for ways to add steps into your day, Meredith. Here are a few more ideas:
- Capitalize on “standing around time.” For example, if you’re watching your kid’s soccer game or waiting for an appointment, the bus, or the elevator, use that time to walk up and down the length of the field or pace around the hall. You can even walk around while brushing your teeth!
- Speaking of the elevator, take the stairs instead. Or, if your destination is on the 27th floor and you can’t walk that many floors up, ride the elevator to the 17th floor and take the stairs the remaining ten.
- Pace while on the phone.
- Initiate “moving meetings.” When Debby and I need to hold strategy sessions or meet over an upcoming program or post, we’re usually walking. You’d be surprised what great ideas are generated when you’re on the move!
- Ditch the “step killers.” These include drive throughs, remote controls, escalators, and “people movers” at airports.
- Start the habit of taking family walks after dinner – even if it’s just around the block.
- After grocery shopping, forget the cart corral – walk your cart all the way back into the store.
- If it’s practical, walk rather than drive your kids to school or to the bus stop. If you have a dog, then by all means, take him for walks too.
- Invest in a treadmill and walk on it while watching TV or reading. If a treadmill is out of the question, simply get up and walk around during commercial breaks. If most of what you watch is programming that you’ve pre-recorded, use the time you’ve saved by fast-forwarding through commercials to go for short walks.
- Cut your own grass, rake your own leaves and shovel your own snow. Get your kids in on the action too.
- Enjoy walking outings with your kids. Go for hikes, visit museums, and go to the zoo.