10,000 steps a day

I made the mistake of listening to a Radio 4 programme the other day about “Normal” levels of fitness. We’ve already established that when I say “no, really, I don’t enjoy exercise” it’s because no, really, I don’t enjoy exercise, so we won’t flog that particular dead horse again just now.

However, in a fit of existential angst following the programme, I bought myself a pedometer. Oh the dangers of combining online shopping with listen again on the same Internet. The angst was existential because they kept discussing whether or not people were “fit for life” which has rather nasty implications, really. The pedometer is not one of those notoriously inaccurate ones. Ho no. This one has been Tested. So it must be good. It is a clever little thing: it stores your alleged number of footsteps for the last 7 days. So here goes:

Monday- 6,836
Tuesday – 4,229
Wednesday – 4,843
Thursday – 4,663
Friday – 6,425
Yesterday – 4,618
Today – 7,061

It’s not 10,000 a day, is it?


I decided not to make any major changes to my habits for a week to see what a normal day looked like. Mind you, if you can’t manage what you don’t measure, there’s an inevitable tendency to manage what you do measure, so I’ve already stopped using the lift as much at work. Unfortunately, I can’t yet do five flights of stairs without embarrassing wheezing so I walk three floors and then take the lift. The blip on Friday was because I realised that I can walk up and down the office like a demented tiger while I’m on conference calls; fortunately there are at least two other people who do the same thing, so I am not alone in my eccentricity.

While looking for the obvious video to illustrate this post, I found this one. A better illustration of the indignities produced by alcohol would be hard to find, and the sight of Janette Krankie bopping drunkenly on a chair is one that will give me disturbing flashbacks for minutes to come. You have been warned.


2 responses to “10,000 steps a day

  1. 10,000 steps a day is an arbitrary number, just like 5 portions of fruit and veg (why not six? Or four? Or ten? And what the hell is a “portion” anyway? Are all fruit and veg equivalent? etc.).

    The interesting thing is it was chosen for a perfectly good reason – or a good reason if you’re trying to market pedometers to people who speak Japanese.

    English has a word for 10^1. It’s “ten”. It also has a word for 10^2 – “hundred”, and 10^3, “thousand”. We then don’t bother having a new word again until 10^6, “million”, instead merely stringing together our first three powers of ten (e.g. “a hundred thousand”) until they run out.

    The Japanese, however, have a specific word for 10^4 – 10,000. It’s “man”. As in “manpo-kei”, the 10,000 steps meter. There is NO epidemiological significance to 10,000 steps, it’s entirely a figment of Japanese linguistics.

    Just thought you’d like to know that.

  2. And the latest news is 30 minutes of ‘brisk’ walking three times a week will help make you (and me) fitter. It’s never quite explained what brisk is…

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