Earlier this year when John and I were in Cleveland visiting my folks, my Dad gave me his spare pedometer to try out. The Cleveland Clinic has started doing a fitness/nutrition program for its employees, and my parents both signed up to participate, and my Dad ended up with an extra pedometer, which he passed on to me.
I think of myself as a pretty fit and active person – I go to yoga class on the weekends (usually both Saturday and Sunday), I fence at least once a week, and I do cardio (running on the elliptical and/or treadmill) and use the weight machines at the gym at work during the week. (I have found that a workout sometime around mid-afternoon is great for clearing my head and thinking, and is also the guaranteed quietest time at the gym at work.) So I figured that wearing the pedometer would be a good way to have hard numbers to confirm my own impressions of my fitness level.
According to the little instruction manual, 10,000 steps a day is an indicator of an “active” lifestyle. Anything below that is some variation of a “sedentary” lifestyle. I figured that I should easily average somewhere between 9,000-10,000 steps a day.
The big shock was that unless I was doing a cardio workout of at least 45 minutes that day, I would average only around 4,000 steps. Days where I ran on the elliptical/treadmill were the only days where I hit or surpassed the 10,000 steps-a-day goal. So I sit more and walk a hell of a lot less ten I thought that I did. Which I guess should have been no big surprise since I work at a computer 8 hours a day. But still.
Granted, the pedometer didn’t register about half of my workouts – the yoga, the weight machines, and the fencing. There is not a lot of walking around involved when you are doing yoga or on a weight machine. And there was just too much jumping around and too many erratic movements for the pedometer to accurately track anything during fencing. (Also, after the first time I stopped wearing it to fencing practice since I was worried that it would get hit by a blade and break.)
So is the pedometer a good way of measuring fitness? Eh, I dunno. I am going to keep wearing it, certainly (because I love numbers and data) but I think that I will be taking my daily numbers and averaging them out over the week, and shoot for an average of 8,000 steps a day, regardless of other types of workouts. That seems to be more reasonable to me then kicking myself on a daily basis because it is so difficult (as a suburban-living, desk-bound, computer-jockey) to hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps.