Opinion: Taking corrective steps


For Father’s Day, my son bought me one of those watches that tracks your daily number of steps, monitors your heartbeat, and I think it can you tell you the correct time, but I haven’t gotten that far in the directions. I’d like to “walk you through” what has happened since I received the gift. That’s probably not the appropriate expression, but I’m trying to trick my watch into thinking I’m actually exercising.

In order for it to record steps, your arms have to swing back and forth. I spent half an hour in Kroger the other day pushing my cart, but it showed I had not taken a single step because my hands were grasping the cart’s handle. At one point I was so frustrated, I just started flapping my arms like a bird. The manager must have assumed I didn’t speak English because he led me over to where they roast the chickens.

Since I received this present, several stories about the devices have been published, which have given me pause — which I can’t enjoy for very long because any prolonged period of inactivity sets off a little alarm. It’s a good thing I am a restless sleeper.

A story in Prevention magazine said that the idea of 10,000 steps per day, the conventional goal often cited as a guideline, has no scientific basis. Apparently, someone just made this number up. It’s probably the same guy who made up eight glasses of water a day, and eight hours of sleep. I have always questioned the three-meals-a-day concept, so I’ve gone to five, which at least involves moving my right arm a lot more.

By the way, my dentist told me during my last visit that the conventional wisdom suggesting you see your dentist twice a year also has no basis in research. He thinks (no surprise here) that you should visit your dental office three times a year. However, he recommended I see him four times a year because I have deep pockets. I’m not sure if he was talking about my gums or if it was because I told him I made a few good investments last year.

One final odd occurrence worth noting. When I looked at my watch this morning, I had walked 1,267 steps while I was asleep. The cookie jar was empty and someone had mowed the lawn in the middle of the night. Two Ambien before bed might be one more than I need.

Personally, I think I get plenty of walking in each day. Here are a few examples from just this past week:

  • I walked to the mailbox to get the pound of lox I ordered from a NY deli.
  • I walked downstairs to our second freezer to sneak a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, which I had hidden from my wife.
  • I walked from the living room where I was taking a nap to the bedroom to get a good night’s sleep.
  • I walked from the pro shop to my golf cart.
  • I walked into the garage several times to get in my car.

I plan to walk to my office every day. It’s not my fault I work out of my house, but it’s at least taking steps in the right direction.