My phone counts my daily steps, if I’m carrying it around. I had never heard of such an abomination until sometime in the early 2000s when I had my first cell phone in the pocket of my REI cargo shorts. I was running hills with my dog when I got a call from my boss.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m out at Mission Trails.”

“Mission Trails? Why? Is there a meeting?”

“No, I’m running with the dogs.”

“I bet you have no problem getting in your 10,000 steps.”

It was then I learned were “supposed” to walk 10,000 steps every day or something. Since my phone keeps counting, I researched the famed 10,000 steps a little while back. Here’s what I learned (found the article!):

“I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the lead author of a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, began looking into the step rule because she was curious about where it came from. “It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy,” she explains. “In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.’”

Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research.


Still, my phone persists…

To me the QUALITY of the steps counts more than the quantity. My steps are now pretty lame ( ha ha ) but my feet are just part of the equation. What I SEE and HEAR? Even when I was running that was the point. I didn’t have much time between school and dark and that was one reason I ran. The others? I loved running for its own sake and liked the endorphin kick that had the power to add a lovely quality to the light. On top of all of that I loved being out in nature alone with my dogs.

A friend recently asked me why I “work out” in the afternoon and not the morning. I explained that it’s not something I want to “get over” before I “get on with my day.” It’s the reward for whatever the day has blasted through my life. It’s a lifetime habit, I tried explaining. As soon as I got home from school when I was a kid I was out the door and into the woods or hills at top speed. After teaching all day? “Here you go, Martha! Good job! Play Kate Bush, leash the dogs, load up the truck and GO!!!! You’ve earned it!”

After speaking to my boss that day, I wondered about those 10,000 steps. I finally shook my head and said, “C’mon Punky (Ariel),” and we took off up the slope where once we’d watched a doe watch us. I have no idea how many steps that was.


17 thoughts on “10,000?

  1. Ophelia is speaking to me right now…”Let’s walk, and let’s do it now!!” She agrees quality over quantity…”It’s all about the smells!” she barks!

  2. The way you describe your experience in the hills describes my feelings on my hikes perfectly. It isn’t exercise. It is reward for successfully putting up with the sling sand arrows of outrageous fortune yet another day.

    Actually yet another week. If I tried a serious hike every day, I’d have needed my knees replaced long ago. These days I need a lot of recovery time.

  3. Wonderful photography. Love the cranes and the dogs. Interesting about the steps. I never counted mine but I walk a lot with Lucy dog and my camera. Great post.

  4. Well, now I know about the 10,000 steps. I have a fitness tracker – which if I hadn’t turned off the alerts – would buzz me every hour or so to “tell” me to get moving…if I hadn’t gotten close to the goal. Totally annoying. I was out the door heading outside to play after school when I was a kid too. Maybe it’s why I feel better even now getting my “steps” out in the woods. No matter how many steps that it.

  5. Many years ago my employer gave a free pedometer to every worker over 50, to encourage us to get our 10,000 steps. Every workday put me well over 10,000. On my day off I walked my kids to and from school. Nowhere near 10,000, but much more enjoyable steps.

  6. I have a fitbit and that thing can be annoying but it does nudge me to move. Today was a 11,850 day (so far) but they were fun steps taken with son#1 on a Christmas shopping spree. I was able to make a huge dent in the shopping!!

  7. Not everything should be quantified.

    In fact, things with intrinsic value – like time in nature, and movement – should not be quantified. Tends to reduce their value.

  8. I have an Apple Watch which counts my steps and does lots of other things too — like measure my heart rate and my metabolism. I’m not obsessed with it, but it is interesting data for someone like me who enjoys data. While I walk (and often achieve 10,000 steps in a day) as part of my regular life and my canine care, I like to exercise in the late afternoon. I think it’s because it is a reward for doing all the other things I was supposed to do during the day, or maybe because it is the consolation prize for not having done them. Either way, my old bones are more limber then, too.

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