The fitness band frame of mind
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I have a desk job at Mint, which means that most of the time I am sitting in a chair, in a bad posture, staring at the computer screen, or sheets of paper, and the only muscles that are overused are the ones involved in moving the mouse or pen and drinking cups of tea.
As for exercise, I occasionally go for a morning walk. Did I hear you say laggard?
I thought as much.
Recently, I borrowed a fitness band from a colleague to see how sedentary my life was. I wore the tyre-lookalike for a week (and those seven days I did not wear Crocs, to keep the plastic style quotient minimal).
The first day (I put it on at 10am, which means a lot of steps were not recorded), the device showed 8,979 steps, 10 floors (climbed), 5.9km and 1,747 calories burnt by 10pm. I must say I was surprised. My rough estimate had been 5,000-6,000 steps a day.
The next day: 9,247 steps, 10 floors, 6.08km, and 1,784 calories.
The third day, while returning from work, I must have been about half a kilometre from home when I felt something buzz on my wrist. There were fireworks on the screen. I realized I had completed 10,000 steps (14 floors, 6.99km, 1,821 calories). It felt like I had won a lottery. And in celebration, I had an ice cream after dinner. Thankfully, fitness bands are not evolved enough to shout and shame you. Imagine if the device were to say: “Stop. Do not even think of having that ice cream. Or do 2,000 steps more.”
In those seven days, I was doing 7,000-12,000 steps a day. The day I crossed 12,000, I had gone for a morning walk (seven floors, 8.02km, 1,915 calories).
My average for the week: 32,659 steps, 27 floors, 21.46km, 1,466 (average daily) calorie burn.
I realized that if you take the Metro (or any other form of public transport), walk from there to office and home, both ways, achieving 10,000 steps is all part of a day’s work. And if you don’t get a place to sit in the Metro, that’s even better (though this will not translate into additional steps). Plus, if you ditch the escalators, elevators and climb all the stairs, in the Metro and office, you get a good cardio workout.
On days I took a cab back home or got a drop to the Metro station, the footstep count was below 10,000. It dropped to below 7,000 steps on my off day—it’s a good thing to be gainfully employed.
Walk from home to Metro = around 2,000 steps
Walk from office to Metro = around 2,000 steps
Also, when you are in office, walk to the printer (don’t give all the printouts at the same time), don’t fill up your water bottle in one go, so you will make more trips to the water cooler, go out for a breath of fresh air once or twice and stretch your legs—and always take the stairs. And instead of sending an email to the colleague who also wears a fitness band, walk up to his/her desk, exchange notes, and feel the grin spread on your face as you find you are ahead. It’s a numbers game.
To and from the printer = 63 steps
To and from the washroom = 95 steps
Stroll to the pantry = 20 steps
Every step counts on the fitness tracker.
For example, if you are doing a vigorous activity, say, like rolling out a chapati or washing clothes, the device counts those as steps. Let me put it this way, I was keeping a close watch on the fitness tracker, checking its every move.
Rolling out a chapati = around 25 steps
Doing household chores (which includes cooking, watering the plants, and sundry other things, in the morning) = around 2,000 steps.
The fitness band has been returned. My wrist feels lighter and people (yes, they can be judgemental) don’t look at me and get the wrong message: “She must really be into fitness”. I have also stopped glancing constantly at my wrist and mumbling to myself, “Only 1,999 steps to go for the fireworks.” And I can cheat—I can take the escalator/elevator without thinking of steps.
I am happy to have discovered that I am not a laggard. As long as I am taking public transport, I will always be on my toes. Yes, my desk job does make me a sitting duck for a host of other issues related to the spine, but that’s another story.
I have decided that if I am ever gifted a fitness band, I will outstep myself—maybe aim for 15,000 first. A fitness band does make you competitive, especially when you hear of people logging over 20,000 steps in a day (who are these people?). And hopefully, all that activity will take care of the spine too.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a printout to fetch.