Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miles for a Moose

I’ve walked the equivalent of 900,000 steps – or 450 miles -- over the past 10 weeks. But I didn’t strap on a pedometer every day since April 7 just to improve my health -- I wanted the money.

However, when the dust settles on Tuesday, I won’t have logged the most steps or likely lost the largest percentage of weight in the 10-week “friendly” competition at my workplace. I am not a good loser so there’s nothing "friendly" about it as far as I'm concerned, although I must (reluctantly) admit my pedometer did inspire more exercise.

Every spring, my employer launches some sort of a multi-week “get healthy” program for its employees (supported by a grant, not local taxpayers). This year, teams (mine is the Stepsisters) used pedometers to record steps and report the totals every week (yes, it’s the honor system) while those in the weight-loss contest stepped on a scale monitored by a physician. Individual winners get $250 and winning teams get $100 per member.

I figured $250 would buy me a night in northern New Hampshire to fulfill my 2009 goal of seeing a moose in the wild (don’t ask). Plus, repeating the word “moose” might inspire me to keep walking and successfully pass up dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much it would remind me of the chocolate variety.

Nonetheless, I began clipping the pedometer to my waistband each morning and periodically snapped it open to check my progress throughout the day. “Is that a pager or a diabetes monitor?” a fellow partygoer asked one evening. “Yep,” I said and walked away. After all, one must seize any opportunity to record additional steps.

Have you ever thought about how many steps you take in a day? If you try a pedometer, you’ll find:

  • Generally speaking you can count on 2,000 steps will equal one mile. But, depending upon your length of stride it might take 2,500 steps to equal 1 mile.
  • 10,000 steps should be considered 5 miles. (Is this a math problem?)
  • 200 steps is about one city block.
  • 9 holes of golf (no cart) equals about 8,000 steps.
  • Most people will get about 1,200 steps in 10 minutes (Yeah, right. Not in front of my TV.)

Here's what the experts say the daily total of steps means:

2,500 steps or less per day--VERY INACTIVE
2,501 - 5,000 steps per day--INACTIVE
5,001 - 7,500 steps per day--MODERATELY ACTIVE
7,501 - 10,000 steps per day--ACTIVE
Greater than 10,000 steps per day--VERY ACTIVE

I figured only "very active" would win. Fortunately for those of us who spend most of our day in front of a computer, there also was a chart to “convert” other physical activity to steps. Instead of wearing a pedometer while I vacuumed, for example, I could count 101 steps for every minute I pushed the machine. Grocery shopping (is this really an aerobic activity?) equalled 67 steps a minute. If I really wanted to ramp it up, playing squash earns 348 steps per minute and kickboxing and karate gets 290 steps a minute each. Any of those would probably kill me, so I decided to rely mostly on my feet and pure steps.

Then I saw the very high weekly totals recorded by my fellow employees. I was extremely suspicious of one co-worker, but he claimed he played five hours of tennis every Saturday (Singles tennis is worth 178 steps per minute and doubles equals 102). When I griped to Husband No. 1, he suggested I could get the same totals by standing on empty tennis court with a racquet in my hand for five hours. To keep myself from dying of boredom, I could mentally calculate how much my numbers would rise. My grumbling got louder.

It became a dull roar when I saw the steps racked up by folks already active in their daily jobs. A Recreation Department employee could earn 100 steps per minute, or 4500 points, for each 45-minute yoga class. You can guess which department’s team soon stepped so far ahead no one could catch them – and they were getting paid for it, too.

So I turned my attention to weight loss, but there was a slight problem there, as well. While percentage of weight loss, rather than pounds gone, took into consideration that men lose weight more easily than women, the skinnier girls had an advantage over the more “Rubenesque” like myself. Nonetheless, I had advanced to third place by week 6. Since No. 2 worked for the Rec Department, I figured she wouldn’t/couldn’t let up on exercise, so I asked about her food weakness. She just smiled.

Then I set my sights on the leader, who works in the department administering the program. I tried to persuade her to disqualify herself. Then I suggested she go out to eat more often. It was beginning to look hopeless. Drastic action was required. The moose were calling so I did the only thing I could think of:

I sent her chocolates via inter-office mail.

How many extra steps do you think I can claim for "attempted sabotage"?


Anonymous said...

So have all these steps caused you to lose weight? Or just lose sleep, fretting about how your coworkers are racking up imaginary activity?

Pat said...

I have lost weight but I'm not sure whether to credit the fretting or the exercise...:)

MaxWriter said...

I like the sabotage angle! Sounds like maybe it should go in a book about municipal murder?? ;^)

Either way, doing a lot of steps and losing weight is great for your health, so you're on the right track, whether you "won" the contest or not.

I have pedometer in a drawer somewhere from when my former workplace was encouraging us to count our steps, but since I already had a habit of walking 4 hilly miles a day, I almost always racked up 15000 or so daily.