How Being Old Helps Me Get My Steps in Every Day

Photo by Kamil S on Unsplash

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.

So, see?

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.

A Lesson (ouch) Learned



When will I learn?  When will I finally come to terms with the fact that I am not 25 anymore? Or 35?  Or 50?

When will I begin to accept my own physical limitations?

Not yet, apparently.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few days. I’ve been crabby, tired, irritable. You know, the typical curmudgeon of an old lady.  My brain’s been sort of fried, and that has been the root of my problems.

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t sleep real well when my thoughts are running around in circles like a crazed hamster on a wheel.  I drift off, then jolt myself awake thinking of things I haven’t done, things I meant to do, things I’m supposed to do but am refusing to do, things I think maybe I should do if I was a really healthy person but which I don’t want to do now that I know I’m not.   You know.  Hamster. Wheel.  Awake all night.

Anyway, I came home from work yesterday with my brain in a fog and my spirits low.

And I was greeted at the door by my tall, handsome, grinning-with-his dimples-twinkling German boychik, Lucas.  He held up his phone, showing the face of his beautiful Momma with whom he was Skyping.  I spent a few minutes chatting with her, smiling at him, and walking around my intensely muddy garden. It was very uplifting!

When I came inside, Lucas and I started talking about baseball.  And that got us thinking about my old, dusty Wii.  And he challenged me to a game of baseball.  First I just laughed.

Then I accepted.

Because I am dumb.

Very, very dumb.

I got dinner started, then grabbed my controller.  And Lucas and I played “Wakeboard”.  I lost by about 3, 000 points, but it was fun! I was jumping around, pretending to be at the beach, swinging my arms……  Then we decided to try “Bowling”.  And “Table Tennis”.  And “Archery” (where I came within striking distance of almost sort of catching him,     -ish, kinda.) Lucas stood like a sedate old elm, flicking his wrists and scoring big. I continued to jump around and flail, like a gorilla with a paintbrush in his hand.

So fun!  Ha, ha!

This went on for quite a while.  Lucas scored points, I flailed and twitched.

By the time we ate our pork chops and cleaned up, I was feeling all relaxed and happy.  My brain was focused on jumping over the wake, and my body felt all loose and stretchy.

I was like a limber, athletic older jock lady, you know?  Pretty sweet!

I fell into bed around 9, and slept the gentle sleep of the physically fit.

I hardly snored at all.

When my alarm trilled at 6 AM, I rolled over.  I yawned, feeling incredibly refreshed and relaxed.

Then I stood up, and every single nerve I have ever had or dreamed of having went into a spasm of silent screaming.  I couldn’t stand up straight. My back ached. My butt ached. My right shoulder felt like I’d pitched 9 innings for the Sox.  I sucked in a breath, and tried to hobble to the bathroom.  I managed to claw the door open, but I couldn’t even get my PJ’s off.  How could I shower or shampoo?

I did my best, emerging from the bathroom 20 minutes later with lather still in my hair, my pants unbuttoned and my back in the shape of a wobbly question mark.

When will I learn?

Some people my age run marathons.  Some compete in ski races.

But some of us are only engaged in competitive cooking, meatball eating competitions and falling asleep races.  We simply cannot spend two hours playing Wii with 17 year old German princes.

Not if we want to be able to tie our own shoes in the morning.

Good night.

I am off to the hot tub with my ibuprofin in hand.  Planning to slather on the menthol cream when I get out.