The ‘10,000 steps per day challenge’ …

It seemed to be a new concept when I heard it, but it has been around since the 1960s in Japan where they used it to sell pedometers. Simply put, walking 10,000 steps every day – about 5 miles – is recommended as the ‘bare-minimum’ exercise that a ‘active person’ should undertake and it has significant health benefits.

Tracking your performance is very easy today and a smart phone app can easily do the job and even motivates you to reach the goal.

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It started as a casual discussion at office with my colleagues but it has grown stronger with every passing day as a movement to improve our lifestyles and health. Bogged with the pressure of getting the job done, one accumulates many bad habits that get ingrained into us over the years. We are all familiar with the typical office stereotype of a middle-aged Manager – too much stress and anger in the routine, too many cups of Tea and Coffee, prone to be chain smoker, too much of drinks, often skips breakfast and has lunch at odd hours and an overtly sedentary life. Most of the time is spent in meetings, over the laptop and fiddling with ones smart phone.

One of our Managers took off for a month to Canada to spend time with the family. He came back and looked refreshed. He had given up smoking for nearly a month now and was religiously clocking the 10,000 step per day challenge. This was primarily aided by starting with an early morning walk for about 30 minutes that itself contributed about 5000 steps for the day. He had then started to make changes on all the pain points mentioned above. He had arranged to go for a comprehensive health check up and follow the advice given by the Doctor. An added suggestion is to make sure that one needs to sleep at least 7 hours every night and should stick to standard ‘bed-time’ and ‘wake-up’ timings to make sure that the habit sets in. The biggest challenge to this is the disruption we cause ourselves by varying the routine on every weekend that passes by.

We were happy for him and it was staring us in our face as well. We all were intelligent enough to know the baggage of bad habits that we carried every day in our life. Will we find the courage and determination to change it? Am sure the unspoken question occurred to all of us.

Our colleague offered a good piece of advice to beginners – set targets that may even seem modest but try to sustain performance for some time before moving it to the next level. Acknowledge that there will be days when you will miss a trick or two, but that should not become a reason to throw the baby with the bath water. And finally do it only for yourself – competing with others or wanting to win bragging rights with your family and friends may work in a lot of the other areas but is not the best possible strategy to effect this change. And finally one should feel open to share your feelings about it as the change will be painful initially and it will take sustained will power to sustain  your effort.

In true style we have all adopted some of the parts from the above – in fact not all the requirements actually applied to each one of us. And we are using one another’s support to sustain the momentum. Interesting tactics are used to manage this – it is best not to leave office and walk up to the cold-store and hang around since you end up smoking. The urge to have Tea with milk is replaced by trying to have herbal Tea instead. Even for lunch, people are trying to have salads and fruits. But a key feature is to let a few sinful moments – like a team lunch, as an indulgence, on Thursdays before we start the weekend, is a suitable motivator to sustain the momentum at home as well over the weekend.

All of us are past the first decade into our Corporate careers while a few of us are already into their middle-age. It is never too early to make these healthy changes and a conducive peer environment is a powerful motivator as well. ‘One swallow does not make a summer’ though and so I keep my fingers crossed while thinking about how well we sustain the early momentum built thus far.

Credit: Marta Nardini Courtesy: Getty Images
Credit: Marta Nardini
Courtesy: Getty Images

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