I will walk 10,000 steps…

… and I will walk 10,000 more. (Just to be the [wo]man who walked 5 million steps to smash a goal…)

One year ago today, I shared my excitement for marking a full (leap) year of meeting and exceeding my goal of 10,000 steps a day. And here I am today, 365 days later to share my joy at meeting and exceeding my goal for two solid years in a row.

Yes, I have taken at least 10,000 steps a day, every day, for 731 days. (And I’m well on my way to 732 days now.) For those who are counting (OK, that’s just me) that is a total of 9,060,373 which averages 12,394 steps a day.

But why 10,000 steps a day? I know that the idea of “10,000 steps a day” for health began as an arbitrary number for a pedometer marketing campaign back in 1965. But there are also known health benefits to movement – whether measured in step counts or the intensity of movement over time.

For me, I like the aim of 10,000 steps a day because of what it represents: A guaranteed minimum mileage which equates to a minimum of intensity minutes.

I average 1,600-2,000 steps a mile, varying based on running or walking (and the overall speed for either activity). Generally, that means I must move between 5-6 miles a day to reach that goal. I can get that by running, walking, or a combination of the two – and the faster I move (running or walking) the more intensity minutes I have at the end of the week. (The recommendation is for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.)

It’s an easy enough target to hit on a day that I run but on non-running (and non-hillwalking) days, it can be a little more challenging – especially if I will be at my desk working most of the day. Those are the days that I have to “force” myself to move. I might have to take a break from work to walk around the garden for a bit, or to go into the village. I might have to do some jumping jacks or dance around the cottage whilst I cook my dinner. Or I might need to use the elliptical whilst watching TV in the evenings.

Of course, it was much easier to rack up the steps on a non-running day when I was working in the real office. Between walking to/from the bus, moving between locations for teaching or meetings, and doing little “laps” around the building when I needed to use the toilet or to just stretch my legs, I would generally have a solid 10,000 by the end of the day – more if I went for a run before going to the office or opted to walk to/from a different/further bus stop.

As I mused last year, this ongoing step success is a fluke, a by-product of life in a COVID19 world. More specifically, it’s the result of my ongoing isolation (although that’s lessening by the day) and the general boost to my health because of it – not getting sick and having more time for running and hill walking is wonderful.

As for my 2021 annual goal, I have fewer than 1,456,000 steps to take before I go to bed on 31 December to reach 5,000,000 steps. That’s going to be a little more challenging than last year’s final quarter, but I feel confident that I will manage it.

As for my 2022 step goals, I think need to step down a notch or two. The effort needed for 5,000,000 steps is challenging enough when I was working from home all the time, and I hate to think about the levels of difficulty when I return to the office. Not just in finding the time to get the extra running and walking in, but in the (very real) risks that I face in getting sick and being stuck on bed rest. I will, of course, decide on a goal that pushes me beyond my base levels of comfort. But I will be (mostly) sensible about it.

Whilst there is no trophy to celebrate this great milestone, I am very proud of myself. It’s not been easy and I know that it will only get harder as I step further and further into society again. But I’ll keep going for as long as I can (safely) do so.

I hope that you are managing all your personal goals and ambitions for the year, too – no matter what they are!

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