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Do you Self Quantify?

What I Learned from Walking 15,000 Steps Per Day

So the BIG question is….. Should you really self quantify?

For some of you, you might not know exactly what ‘self quantify’ means.  Basically it means, should you measure yourself within a persons daily life in terms of inputs. (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical)  You can also do this by incorporating technology / collect data to read all of these inputs.

One of the main things I self quantify and is the easiest I’ve been tracking is (as boring as it may first sound) the number of steps I take each day.  This is because I know within my job and lifestyle, if I’ve not reached a set goal I have in mind, then I know I’ve had a lazy, unproductive day.

So, what have I learned by counting my steps, and how many steps have I been attempting to take each day? You’re about to find out.

 10,000 steps tracker

Research on 10,000 Steps Per Day

OK, so here is a real quick history lesson on 10,000 steps. While manufacturers of fitness trackers such as FitBit and Garmin might very well be responsible for the current 10,000-step fixation. The hype actually started in Japan back in the 1960’s, while the Tokyo Olympics were happening and fitness was on everyone’s mind in that particular region. At this time, the Japanese developed the first commercial pedometer, which was called the “manpo-meter.”

Manpo

Manpo means 10,000 steps in Japanese, and this “magic” number was specifically selected after research revealed that men who burn at least 2,000 calories per week by exercising have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. 2,000 calories per week breaks down to approximately 300 calories per day, which most people can achieve by taking—you guessed it—10,000 steps per day (that’s about five miles).

Since that initial research, there’s been plenty of other studies showing that 10,000 steps a day can help your health. There are actually over 300 peer-reviewed articles with a focus on the 10,000 steps per day protocol. One study, for example, found that people who take more than 10,000 steps a day have lower blood pressure levels and better cardiovascular health. Another study determined that getting close to 10,000 steps helps lower blood glucose levels and lowers the risk of developing diabetes. Other studies show that this value of 10,000 steps per day help you more easily maintain your weight.

How Many Steps Per Day I Take

So because of my job and also having a very active dog, I’ve personally found that 10,000 steps per day is almost “too easy” for me to record and self quantify.  Training with my clients and making sure my dog always gets an 1 hour walk in the morning, I can find myself reaching 10,000 steps before lunchtime.

At the same time, I really have to work quite hard and be moving nearly the entire day at a relatively rapid, hectic pace to achieve 20,000 steps per day (that’s over 10 miles!).

So, through a combination of pure self-experimentation and natural daily movement patterns, I’ve discovered that about 15,000 steps per day seems to be a sweet spot for me to use to self quantify. Along the way, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

fitness watch

Lessons Learned From 15,000 Steps per Day

Walking Counts As Meditation

Meditation and breathwork seem to be an entirely new and trendy fitness craze, but I often find that I simply don’t have the time to squeeze in twenty to thirty minutes of silent meditation. However, I’ve discovered that I can turn walking into a form of moving meditation by taking a twenty to thirty minute walk each day during which I engage in box breathing. It’s simple, relaxing, and induces a feeling just like other forms of “sedentary” meditation I’ve tried doing. Here’s how it works:

Breathe in for four steps.

Hold your inhaled breathe lightly for the next four steps.

Breathe out slowly for four steps.

Hold your exhaled breathe lightly for the next four steps.

That’s it! As you can see, you can simply visualize breathing up the side of a box, across the top of that box, down the box, and across the bottom of the box.

Every Little Thing Counts

Tiny little movements throughout the day add up to a significant number of calories. On a travel day in which I’m bound to the seat of a car, airplane or train, getting to my 15,000 step self quantify goal is extremely hard. So finding options to walk rather then take the lift, escalator, metro means I am getting little “extra” movements in. For example; When I am on the plane i would walk up and down, which is also a massive aid with blood flow whilst at altitude.

Walking Burns Fewer Calories Than You’d Think

I burn about 400 calories per hour at a relatively brisk walking pace (usually about four miles per hour). Yep, that means that for me to simply burn through an average cookie from Starbucks, I’d need to hit the road for at least an hour or more. Compared to running (800+ calories per hour), swimming in cool water (900+ calories per hour) or rowing (1000+ calories per hour), walking isn’t a great way to burn calories. So, while there are an enormous number of benefits derived from moving at a low level of physical activity and throwing in half hour walks each day, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to burn oodles of fat off your waistline. To achieve that, you do indeed need to go out and build up an “oxygen debt,”

So, do you self quantify and if so what do you do? let me know and if you need any more advice then feel free to comment on here.

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