I would walk 10,000 … steps – by Helen May
I climb, I walk, I cycle and I go to the gym. I move around a reasonable amount but there are still times when I just don’t feel like it or don’t fancy going out in the rain, or I have too much work to do or eaten too much or not feeling 100% or … many other excuses.
Just over a year ago, I was offered a fitness band. Initially, I thought I would wear it to find out how many steps I do on average. In my first month, I notched up a little over 7,000 steps. This wouldn’t turn me into a marathon runner but it was more than the average person walks and, given I work from home so don’t even have the walk from my car to the office, it wasn’t bad.
In addition to the total number of steps in the month, I was able to see how often I had “sedentary” days which I made up with walking binges on other days: my walking was pretty steady although I walked more at the weekend.
Over time my average steps per day have increased
I kept wearing the fitness band and, although it wasn’t meant to motivate me to exercise more, being more aware that last week I was a bit rubbish made me want to get out a bit more this week. So over time, my average steps per day have increased. At the end of 2016, I had averaged just over 9,000 steps per day in fifteen months.
I was not unhappy with this and could justify it with the knowledge that I did exercise that did not include many steps like cycling and climbing and resistance training (weights) at the gym. However, when you look for recommendations to keep fit, 10,000 steps per day is the one that comes up more often (although there are others) and, being only 1,000 steps than I have done per day over the last 15 months, I feel it is achievable … even without a daily walk to work.
Nearly three months in and my average for 2017 is over 10,000. I’m ok with this, especially, as I lost three days of data when I forgot to sync my band. However, I am not overjoyed. The app on my phone still remembers my steps from 2016 and 2015: the steps which averaged less than 10,000 steps per day and I want to eradicate those memories. At the same time, I still need to work eight or more hours per day. I still need to cook and eat. I still need to sleep. I still want to spend time mountain biking. I still have to spend far too long on trains and planes for work. And I don’t want to become obsessed.
Charting my journey
I have a spreadsheet charting my journey to an average of 10,000 steps from day zero (the day, I put a fitness band on my wrist). Through tables and graphs, I have calculated, if I average at least 11,000 steps per day for the rest of 2017, I will wipe out the old sub-10,000 step memories.
At the weekend, I rarely struggle to achieve 15,000 steps or more per day as I go for a hike or a wander around the shops or catch up with friends. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy during the week: walking 10,000 steps takes over an hour and I don’t have the time or inclination to wander the streets in the dark for so long after a tough day of work. So I need an alternative option.
When possible, I can go out during my lunch break. I usually wander down to the local supermarket to pick up a few items. But I often forget my reasons for getting out are exercise and fresh air: I have a tendency to take short cuts and spend less time walking less steps. Also I can’t get out every lunch time so I have to do the bulk of my steps in the evening.
In other words, I need to do 11,ooo steps faster than walking. I have tried running around my local streets but, not only is this a fair weather day-time activity, I never got into it because I live in a hilly area. Therefore, my current ploy is to run on the treadmill and do high intensity training on the cross trainer. The scenery is not particularly interesting and I don’t get to feel the wind in my hair. But hope it will provide me with the starter fitness to get me up some hills so I can run outside once the nights get lighter.
Challenges of diabetes
In addition to the problems of motivation, I also have the challenges diabetes throws at me. The difficulty of exercising when my blood glucose (BG) starts too high; the risks of exercising when my BG starts too low; the lingering effects of a hypo in the last 24 hours; and the effects the exercise has on me pushing my BG up or down.
I have come up with a few techniques that are helping:
- If my BG is higher than 6mmol/l, I reduce my basal dose for an hour before exercise
- If my BG is lower than 6mmol/l, I take off my pump during exercise
- If my BG is lower than 5mmol/l, I take of my pump and dilute my drinking water with some squash
- I follow my BG closely during and after exercise
Having a pump has made this easier. In addition, I am starting to realise when I thought was my body reacting like a bolshy teenager (unpredictable) it was often reacting to some different patterns:
- If I exercise in the morning, my BG goes up; if I exercise in the evening my BG goes down
- If I exercise on three consecutive days, my BG goes up and I have less energy on the third day
- If I exercise after a bar of chocolate (and possibly other low acting carbohydrates), my BG goes down quicker
- If I am stressed at work, exercise sometimes helps me relax but sometimes a glass of wine is better.
I have long admired professional athletes with diabetes. I am now realising how difficult it is to regularly exercise hard, maintain a normal life, have diabetes and not become obsessed.
However, I still want to achieve my 10,000 target by the end of the year: that would be about 8 million steps and over 3 thousand miles in 27 months.