Accumulate Steps Over Time Trumps the Daily Grind

Every year, or quarter, I used to come up with new goals around how much I’d walk or run. From setting 10,000 steps as daily goal and crossing them off on a calendar to using a shiny new fitness watch and increasing steps over time, I’ve done it all!

At one point, I was walking 25k steps per day! Up in the morning, walk like a mad woman, take a quick walk during lunch, and come back at it in the evening.

If I set a goal, I achieve it!

However, life always happens, and something comes up. At some point, the goal or streak is interrupted. For good or bad reasons. It could be a week or six months. It doesn’t matter.

Once it is disrupted, I’m done. I stop walking, running, or writing. You can do streaks with everything!

Since the beginning of the year, I have found a better way.

Something I’ve now stuck with since the beginning of January. It is a better way. A healthier way.

The Myth and Lore of the Daily Streak

Why do so many of us actually want to walk or run 10,000 steps a day? Where does it come from?

The concept of 10,000 steps was created in 1965 by a Japanese company when they tried to come up with a name for their step meter. They called it Manpo-kei, which means "10,000 steps per meter."

There are studies that back up the fact that you should walk every day, and I’m not arguing against that. On the contrary, I believe walking is fundamental to everything.

I even have a walking pad under my standing desk to ensure I move enough during the day. It helps me think.

What I don’t want you to do, is become obsessed with taking a certain number of steps every day. Because when you break that streak, you might stop all together!

Here is what I recommend instead:

Switch to a Cumulative Step Approach

We all live crazy lives with high workloads and demands. A flexible and sustainable approach to fitness is needed.

Some of us also love numbers and gamification! This is why 'streaks' and simple rules like 10,000 steps per day are so attractive.

If you like numbers and ticking things off, here is what you can do instead:

Take a cumulative approach and try to walk a certain distance within a defined period of time. Instead of 10k steps per day, you could try and walk 250 km in one month. The beauty of this approach is that you have time to catch up in case you miss a day. If you walk more on the weekend, it is not for ‘nothing’. It counts towards your total!

Right now, I’m walking the distance of the Pacific Crest Trail, a total of 4000 km. I have until next June to achieve this.

I’m using an app to track this, and I will get a t-shirt and medal at the end.

Right now, I’m well over 200 km behind. Wish me luck!

You Are on Your Own

You are on your own fitness journey. 10k steps per day might be too much or too little for you. The goal might also change over the course of a year as you get more fit.

If you tailor your walking goal to fit your lifestyle and needs, it is a win-win situation.

I invite you to try this approach if you have failed at streaks before. Especially if you are an all-or-nothing person.

Aim high and be inspired! You could walk the length of your country! Take the total distance and break it down into what you know you can walk every day. You can take time or distance.

Your Action Items:

  1. Set a realistic but inspiring goal: Aim for a weekly or monthly step total that accommodates your schedule and fitness level. Once you know what is realistic, try increasing the distance!
  2. Listen to Your Body: Prioritise Rest and Recovery. You might want to walk more on the weekend and less when you have a full day at work in the office.
  3. Track Progress Over Time: Keep a log of your steps and distance to monitor progress and celebrate achievements over a longer time frame.

Also, wish me luck! I really want that stupid t-shirt.

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Last Update: December 05, 2023