Copyright John T. Reed 2014

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get 10,000 steps every day. To accomplish that, I got a pedometer for $30.

On New Years’ Day I went out in my car three times to eat at restaurants, watched some bowl games, and worked in my home office. I have a stand-up desk and work standing up. (That’s the kinda guy I am. Also, it’s better if you have lower back pain at times.)

So after that day in which I did nothing that could be called exercise, my pedometer read about 3,000 steps. So that’s sort of a baseline. Your no-exercise daily number of steps may be more or less depending upon your routine, locations of home, work, nature of your job and so on.

Many jobs, like Realtor®, gym teacher, gardener, mailman, may get 10,000 steps or more normally. Book author ain’t one of them at least the way I do it. A travel writer like Rick Steves may get 10,000 steps a day just creating his books and TV shows.

The day after New Year’s Day, I went to the gym and did a half hour on the elliptical machine. That machine is like an exercise bike but the pedals move in a horizontal, oval-shaped path and there are two vertical handlebars that you alternately push and pull as you step. After that workout, I went for an outdoor 30-minute walk in our nice California weather.

It appears that walking or riding the elliptical machine takes about 100 steps per minute. So I easily got my 10,000 steps that day—about 6,000 of them in that hour of exercise and the rest from the normal base line going to lunch, running errands, and moving around the house.

Today, I drove to the bank to make a deposit then went to the gym and did weight training for 50 minutes. When I left the gym I was up to 1,540 steps. Two quarters in the parking meter got me 60 minutes of parking so I took a walk around the block during the final ten minutes of the meter. That put me at about 2,400—10 minutes @ 100 steps per minute = 1,000 steps. So my daily base will give me about 3,000. The gym and 10-minute walk probably added 1,500 for a total of 4,500. So between now—lunch time—and bed, I need an extra 5,500.

If I park 10 minutes from where I eat lunch, the round-trip walk will get me another 20 minutes @100 steps/min. = 2,000 steps. I also have some errands to run. Again, parking some distance from the errand door rather than trying to always park as close as possible can probably take care of the rest.

If you commute to work in a car, you probably park as close as possible to the workplace. But you could park farther away, which often means lower parking rates, and use the walk from parking to office as exercise. Similarly, if you go out to lunch near work, go walking farther than you did in the past. That probably offers more food variety, some cheaper options, as well as the exercise. Commuting on a train or bus adds steps compared to a car to commute because you have to walk from where you park your car to the train platform or bus stop. And standing waiting for the train or bus results in more steps. Ditto if you have to stand on the train or bus.

Not using your remote—it’s possible— adds steps and, thereby, better health.

The point is you can be healthier by making minor changes in your daily routine, some of which also have other benefits beyond just the exercise. A pedometer, like calorie counting, is a cheap, highly effective way to make it happen.

John T. Reed