My sister recently presented me with a rather clunky bracelet. A gift for my 50th birthday. A kind sisterly act I thought, until I realised that within the rubbery exterior lay sophisticated electronics that would measure my every step. As a family doctor, she was worried about me keeping in shape, particularly at the threshold of middle age.
10,000 steps is the target. Not weekly, but daily!
Why 10,000? A little research tells me that the Japanese were inspired by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to aim for this target. Various public health agencies promote it now too. However, there is nothing magical about this number. No scientific studies demonstrate it as an ideal. With the average person taking 3000 – 4000 steps a day, the target merely raises the exercise bar amidst woefully low levels of exertion.
My average total is around 5000. But if I walk to the shop, it adds another 4000. Almost there. I take that walk more often now.
Then I discovered something else was keeping an eye on those precious steps. A recent upgrade to my mobile phone included a health app. I discovered that it too was measuring me. A couple of weeks on a walking holiday with my phone in the backpack yielded some handsome results.
I now have that little niggle in the back of my mind. Have I reached my target today? Do I need to do something extra to step up to the 10,000? I am not an obsessive personality so have no anxieties about losing my mind over this. Rather, I want to figure out how to incorporate easy ways of hitting the target amidst my daily routine. I want to create new habits and instil them. Then maybe I can put the bracelet to one side – hopefully before my next birthday.
What will my sister think of next…?
Examples of the most popular fitness trackers include: