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    TAICHIDANCER   85,383
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How I manage more than 20,000 steps every day. Part 1.

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Saturday, September 07, 2013


Those of you who follow my daily status reports know that since the beginning of summer I have walked more than 20,000 steps (10 miles) every day, with a high of 40,333 steps in one day. Of course, I did some of that while I was on vacation and had made my fitness a priority, but now the school year has resumed (in fact I'll be in the office both days this weekend because I already have papers and quizzes to grade emoticon ) but I'm still getting the steps in. Many of you have told me that my daily step counts have inspired you to increase you own activity levels and I'm grateful for that because I have taken SO MUCH inspiration from all of you. I cannot stress too much how the support and inspiration of the Spark Community has been a part of the success I am now having. Thank you so much.

Because some of you have asked how I manage to get in 20,000+ steps a day while still having a job, a family, and a fondness for sitting on the couch watching movies with my wife, I decided to write a few blogs sharing my "secrets" (such as they are). This is part one. I hope it helps.

Last year (2012) I resolved to average 10,000 steps a day for the entire year. I bought myself a pedometer at a sporting goods store and I made a spreadsheet on my computer to keep track of the daily steps.

I kept my 2012 resolution and learned a few things along the way. The first is that the very act of measuring and recording my steps led me to walk more, just as I am sure that many of you have noticed that the mere fact of keeping a food journal reduces how much you eat.

This year I traded my pedometer for a Fitbit activity tracker (you can see it at the top of this blog). I did it mostly because the Fitbits are much more resistant to sweat and rain than traditional pedometers and after I had two pedometers die on me from walking and bicycling in the rain, I thought enough was enough.

The other thing that Fitbits make easy is good natured competition. Fitbits synch with your computer and you can choose, if you like, to join groups which share step counts and rank people according to their counts. This is a competition where everybody wins, because if the competition spurs you on to walk more, you win even if you don't come in first. But of course, I wanted to come in first, and for the last three months, I've been number one on the New Hampshire Fitbit team. But, as I said, everybody wins, and if one of you wants to join and grab the #1 spot, more power to you.

When I bought my Fitbit, they had a 2 for 1 sale and I got one for my wife. This spurred a private competition between the two of us and we frequently take walks together in the evening instead of watching television and share stories about our day.

But the biggest single thing I have done to get the steps in was to make the decision to walk to work. It takes me an hour and 15 minutes to walk one-way at a speed that doesn't leave me sweaty. Of course, I still sweat somewhat and I have learned to always wear a t-shirt and to pack an extra outer shirt just in case. I also have a "wooden valet" in my office where I leave a suit once a week if I need one (fortunately, I don't have to dress up all that often for my job as a college prof.)

Now some of you may be thinking "This is no help at all! I don't have an extra 2 and a half hours to walk to and from work." Or maybe you are thinking "I live too far from work to walk." But consider the following things.

My hour and 15 minute walk is not an extra hour and 15 minutes. With traffic, lights, etc. it takes 20 minutes each way to drive. If I have to hunt for a parking space, that adds another 10-15 minutes. 40-55 minutes of my walking time would have been spent sitting in a car. So my 2 hours 30 minutes is actually only an extra hour and 35 minutes. Plus when I do go to the gym, I don't spend time on the treadmills, so that is an additional time savings.

There are also economic savings. I don't pay for gas, parking or wear and tear on the car. I'm still on the same tank of gas that I bought when I came back from India on August 15th. Plus there are psychological savings: the walk is a good transition to and from work. On the way in I plan the day's activities and on the way home, I decompress. And finally, don't forget the health savings which is the main reason why I'm doing this in the first place. I've gone down FOUR NOTCHES ON MY BELT this summer!!

On days when I'm too rushed, I drive partway and park in a supermarket parking lot. This cuts my walk to 15 minutes each way which is better than nothing. That is another "secret": I try not to become a slave to the goal of 20,000. I figure if I get more than 10k, it's a good day.

The idea of driving part way and then walking the rest may work for some of you that have longer commutes. What do you think? And finally, I have to acknowledge that I live and work in areas that make it safe for me to walk. That should be everyone's right, but sadly I know this is not the case.

I do have other "tricks" up my sleeve but this has gone on long enough, so I'll save them for another blog. Thanks for all the support SparkFriends. Keep Sparkin'. And keep walking. emoticon

P.S. Thanks for voting this a "popular blog". Part 2 can be found here: http://www.sparkpeople.com/myp
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUNNYLIFE72 9/29/2013 4:40AM

  Great post - thank you for sharing! I've owned a Fitbit for a year - my daily goal is 10K. I also keep track of my miles walked daily. Fell out of the routine of tracking recently and realized what an impact logging my miles had, so I'm back on track now. Your post was inspiring! Brings an awareness that - I need to challenge myself!! =)

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RENATA144 9/24/2013 10:06PM

  emoticon blog !!! emoticon

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CATHY629 9/23/2013 1:34PM

    I always used to walk to work and back,even if it was raining,i just used an umbrella.
Now i have retired and i still walk most days,usually for an hour,but sometimes i get lazy and could do with some extra motivation.
I am so glad i read your blog,it has motivated me to walk more,i always feel so much better after a good walk.
Cathy

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REDFOXTROT2 9/19/2013 1:53PM

    emoticon Very inspirational! Thank you for sharing!!

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GRANNY2B2 9/14/2013 7:39PM

    emoticon

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NEWCHINELO 9/13/2013 6:35PM

    I also walk to work on my non run days since my bike broke down and it's about a 60 minute walk.

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MYSTERYROSE74 9/13/2013 6:19PM

    I just got my FitBit Flex about two weeks ago, and I love it!

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YVONNE2001 9/13/2013 6:06PM

    emoticon What a great and innovative idea. I'll have to see if there is a fitbit available in our area. I've purchased pedometers before and they just didn't last ... they fell off and were damaged or didn't accurately measure my steps. Most of all, thank your for your wonderful example - truly an inspiration.

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KMICHA 9/13/2013 12:26PM

    Love my Fitbit!!!

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FITGRL124 9/13/2013 12:22PM

    This is wonderful!!!!


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CARRIE1948 9/13/2013 11:38AM

    I may never get up to you, but this is giving me some ideas

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KALISWALKER 9/10/2013 3:26AM

    4 belt notches - emoticon

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BEATLETOT 9/9/2013 11:06PM

    I walk to work, too! Too bad it's only 10 minutes.... =(

Can't wait for the next installment, and I am clicking I Liked This! because, well, I did!

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PINKNFITCARLA 9/9/2013 8:08PM

    I have a Fitbit One and LOVE it. It encourages me to do more and more and I like seeing where I rank, even if not in the higher up area all the time. I work 30 miles from work in a heavily congested area near Washington DC. I also carry a lunch cooler, laptop and purse, plus a bag full of work I bring home and back each day. I can't see walking to and from as an option for me and not even part the way with all I carry. I wish I could! I do however get up and go to ask coworkers questions instead of calling them, I walk to the bathroom 3 floors up and use the stairs (even though there is a bathroom in our office 10 feet from me) and I try to get out at lunch when I can. Thanks for your tips! Happy walking!! emoticon

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TXPATRIOT 9/9/2013 12:21AM

    I think it's great that you walk to work!

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TAICHIDANCER 9/8/2013 3:26PM

    @REDISCOVERLLH I'll talk about rain and snow in my next blog, but the short answer is I still get my steps in but I don't always do it by walking to work.

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DISCOVERLLH 9/8/2013 2:44PM

  Do you walk to work in the winter too? I am just curious. I used to live in NH (Gilmanton...still my favorite spot in the world!) and I know there can be heavy snow at times. I have just recently been hearing about fitbit. I'll have to look into getting one.

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KAYOTIC 9/8/2013 1:21PM

    Great tips, and I do this too! While I don't walk to work every day, I've been trying for about 3 days a week, and started running to work (part of marathon training) which actually works very well for me, since my gym is right next door, I can stretch, shower and head in to the office. And I love the walk home, which takes me on trails in a regional park, and like you said, give time for decompressing from the day, reflection, and more steps!

Congrats on making healthy habits a priority, and for getting your wife involved in the fun!

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CHOCOHIPPO 9/8/2013 12:07PM

    Awesome. I have a FitBit as well. I need to challenge myself more. So thank you for the inspiration!

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HGSGUY 9/8/2013 10:59AM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing. I too use the FitBit, I have used one for a few years. I have a One that measures flights of stairs and have done at least 15 flights a day for over 14 months except for a day I had 13 and forgot to check, I was really upset!

So I often walk 15-25k steps a day too. Conference calls are a favorite walk of mine. My phone allows me to plug earphones into it so it is easy to hear. I have a personal phone too, so if I need a "note" I voice record a comment. My phone is muted so they can't hear me huffing along. So much better than sitting around the office. I also use instant messenger and the phone sparingly. If I can go in person, I do. This helps a lot of tasks because while I am out on my main objective, I will usually run into other people and answer questions or get questions answered, so it ends up being really productive!

Lunch, breaks, consultations with coworkers, all great times to get out, or walk around inside if the weather is bad. We have a couple big stores near where I work, so if the weather is really bad, I will go and walk in them for awhile during lunch.

Happy walking!

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KIPPER15 9/8/2013 8:13AM

    I can't walk to work for safety reasons, but like the idea. I try to walk to the store, the post office and all the errands that I can. I love it when I hit 10000 by lunch time. emoticon

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JSTETSER 9/8/2013 6:51AM

    WY to go!

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CANADIANFROG09 9/8/2013 6:22AM

    emoticon blog.

I love walking and try to walk everyday... always my favorite exercise. emoticon

Thanks so much for sharing! emoticon

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68ANNE 9/7/2013 8:18PM

    Thank you so much for the tips and encouragement. I like to walk to work but found myself pulling out excuses this year. It took my son needing a car to get to work after he totalled his to get me going again

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TAICHIDANCER 9/7/2013 5:42PM

    @Brenjet - The New Hampshire FitBit team is on Fitbit. If you aren't aware of it already, you might be interested in http://relliker.com/. Relliker is an independent site that lets you search for Fitbit groups, since Fitbit hasn't put up a very good search engine. If you stick "New Hampshire" into the search engine, it will pop right up.

And thanks to all of you for the positive feedback.

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ANDYLIN90 9/7/2013 5:37PM

    Excellent blog with great tips. Competition really spurs me on too and although I'm not using a FitBit, I'm thinking about getting one just because of the competition aspect it offers.

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MADEIT3 9/7/2013 5:21PM

    Loved your Blog. I used to live 3 miles from work and walked both ways. Now I live 40 miles from work (sigh) but I still try and walk as much as I can. I've had a Fitbit for years - love it - and you've inspired me to walk MORE than my daily 10,000 or thereabouts! Thanks!

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BRENJET 9/7/2013 5:11PM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this blog! With my old pedometer I'd get around 5,000 a day. I was always surprised that it wasn't more as I teach 3rd grade, have recess duty and walk my class every where (bathrooms, specials assemblies etc.). THEN I got my fitbit. Found friends to compete with and watched your daily count. This week I averaged 15k a day with a personal best just over 20! I had no idea there was a NH fitbit team and would love to join!!! Is it a Spark team or on fitbit???

Thanks for the inspiration and I'm looking forward to part 2!

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SHERRYS235 9/7/2013 4:55PM

    I have a fitbit like the one you got and I love it. I wear it everyday.

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JMITCHEL22 9/7/2013 4:25PM

    Great blog! I love walking but not a safe area where I work but you have given me good ideas to start a new walking program. Back in the day, I used to walk five miles everyday after work. I did so for six months and lost 60 pounds. Need to get back into it.!

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