Apparently nothing said chic in Japan in the 1960s like a pedometer: prior to the 1964 Olympics in Japan, pedometer mania swept the country, complete with the launch of the 10,000 step counter.

While my general distaste for the Fitbit was well documented last year (to review, I think many people get in the “forget it exists” zone, therefore it is only as effective as your attention to the data), as a participant in a University of Calgary research project, I am now basically permanently accessorized with a sweet pedometer on my belt. It’s ugly, but the retro throwback value is working for me.

So what have I learned while wearing a pedometer for 6 days?

1. It’s a good idea to check in with your activity levels from time to time. Data is useful when data is useful, and it can be very illuminating. My self-image of myself as an active person turned out to be only partially accurate. Without effort, I log only about 6,600 steps during my workday. 😳. So I’ve been making an effort (which isn’t hard) and walking places I would normally drive, or choosing activities that are more active than sedentary (such as during my volunteer shift for Calgary Reads, helping set up the annual book sale fundraiser). I suggest a week or two of data collection and quarterly check-ins as a baseline.

2. 10,000 steps is more or less the baseline minimum. Factually:

“<5000 steps/day may be used as a ‘sedentary lifestyle index’; (ii). 5000-7499 steps/day is typical of daily activity excluding sports/exercise and might be considered ‘low active’; (iii). 7500-9999 likely includes some volitional activities (and/or elevated occupational activity demands) and might be considered ‘somewhat active’; and (iv). >or=10000 steps/day indicates the point that should be used to classify individuals as ‘active’. Individuals who take >12500 steps/day are likely to be classified as ‘highly active’.” (

So yes, 10,000 is “somewhat active”, but it doesn’t mean you get to eat whatever you want or skip other activities. It means you are a living, breathing, interacting human.

3. Sometimes the truth hurts. But never mind about that. Let’s focus on what’s important: does this pedometer go with my boots?

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