Friday, January 18, 2008

Neat Gadget is a Great Motivator

After carrying this gadget everywhere for the last 13 days, I am pretty surprised by the results. I recently splurged an Amazon Christmas gift certificate to purchase an Omron HJ-720ITC Pocket Pedometer with Advanced Omron Health Management Software
I walk everyday with my dog and thought it might be interesting to log those miles as well as get an idea of how far I walk in a normal day.

I have an office job and am sitting at a desk for the majority of a nine hour work day. Occasionally, my work takes me to a laboratory where I get to move around some, but for the most part I have a sedentary job. Consequently, it seems that at least once a day I get that closed-in and/or itchy feet feeling and just have to get up and walk around.

I used to always think and say that this place (work) was “extracting the life out of me”. And then I learned to use walking as a motivator. On those days when I found it difficult to get started on a work project, I would jump up, take a brisk walk around the building, get some fresh air and always come back ready to start the task. It sounds simplistic, but it does work.

Anyway, back to the pedometer. The gadget has some cool features like keeping track of aerobic steps as well as total steps. Aerobic steps require a minimum of 10 minutes walking without stopping for more than a minute. The device also has a USB port to download the data to a PC and some nice software that is very easy to use. The software has several different graphs to display the data and allows you to set up goals. It was surprising how quickly all those miles and steps added up. Wow! I walked almost 50 miles in thirteen days – that’s over 100,000 steps!

The pedometer has been a great motivator. Once I committed to a number of steps, I found myself wanting to meet the goal everyday. I would try to find ways to add short walks or to lengthen a walk. Which is pretty much the opposite thought process for most folks. Most people want to find the shortest route, the closest parking spot, etc. all to save time and steps, right? Well maybe its time to re-think that. I certainly have, especially after I realized it was possible for me to walk less than two miles on a given work day. That’s pathetic.

It’s also part of the culture in Texas – this state was built on cheap gas and abundant concrete. Texans do not walk. Almost everyone has a car, not necessarily a nice car, but they are on the road. When I first moved here, I was really surprised to see “no pedestrian signs”. It’s a sign with a person walking crossed out with a red X. I couldn’t believe it. People go to great lengths to avoid walking and Texans take it to another level. I even heard of a company in the Dallas area that issued pedometers to employees to keep track of their time away from their desks. If the pedometer reading was too high they were reprimanded!

It may take a lot more than a pedometer to get a Texan to take a walk, but if you already like to walk, it will make it that much more fun to log your miles and progress.

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