A few years ago I noticed that a lot of my friends were wearing big, rubber-encased watches. I saw those friends gazing at their watches as we strolled through various gardens and along a few beaches.
“This is a Fitbit!” one friend told me. “It measures my steps, keeps track of my heart rate, counts calories and reminds me to drink more water!”
As a confirmed non-athlete, I was unimpressed.
Fast forward several years, however, and I found myself the slightly abashed owner of my own pink Fitbit. Covid was raging, and as a good Italian woman, I had spent several weeks trying to cook my way out of danger. I was, shall we say, getting chubby. Or to quote my adorable three-year-old grandson, I was “nice and squishy.”
So I got a Fitbit. I vowed to slim down. I promised to count my steps.
If you are even a little bit aware of current fitness ideas, you will know that a “fit” person is supposed to take a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. With a Fitbit on one’s wrist, one can carefully plan where to walk in order to reach the magic number.
At first, the very idea of walking so much seemed out of reach. I mean, really? I live in a small house, how many steps could there be in the average day of an average old lady?
It seemed somewhat out of reach, I’ll be honest. I thought I’d have to go “hiking” in order to reach the magic number. My young, healthy sons told me about how they had to plan extra walks to make it that far. In the middle of the worst lock-down days, one of them even made a video of himself walking around and around in his own apartment, book in hand, just to get the last couple of hundred steps.
I thought that hitting 10,000 steps would be a major stretch for my aging, squishy self.
But, guess what?
I underestimated the physical benefits of being old. I did not anticipate the wonderful impact of a wicked bad memory.
As it turns out, people my age take a whole boatload of extra steps every day.
I’ll give you an example.
This morning, with my Fitbit on my wrist, I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen. I turned on the coffee pot, then realized that I had left my phone in my room. Back to the bedroom, where I noticed that my bed wasn’t made. Took care of that, went back to the kitchen for coffee. Remembered the phone again. Back to the bedroom. Decided to do laundry, so I grabbed the hamper and headed downstairs to the laundry room. Back to the kitchen, where I poured the coffee and sat down to sip.
And I realized that I still didn’t have my phone. Back to the bedroom.
You get the idea, right? I took around 500 extra steps, just trying to grab my phone.
In the course of a single day, a nice mature person like myself might go into the bedroom five or six extra times. We might go all the way into the garage to take a chicken out of the freezer, then come back upstairs after leaving said chicken on top of the dryer. And down we go again.
It is actually way easier for older people like me to hit 10,000 steps than it is for our 20 something kids to get that far.
I might still be “squishy”, but you better believe I am getting way, way, WAY more than 10,000 steps a day just going through my day.