The 10,000 steps a day became a popular marketing platform a few years ago when it was the rage to use pedometers. Now there are watches and a variety of wrist trackers that record all activity, resting pulse rate, increase in pulse rate with each activity, hours of sleep, calendar alerts, fitness goals, calories consumed, etc. You can download all of this information onto your computer or phone each day, in order to set up a sophisticated training program.
So the pedometers have been surpassed by more comprehensive fitness trackers. But the 10,000 steps a day should not be left in the dust, or in the drawer, with all the other dusty old-fashioned gadgets. They can still help you track your steps, and increase them incrementally as per your goals. According to most fitness recommendations, one should aim to increase the number of steps by 500 per week. There is so much to see!
There are benefits to setting goals and for most people, it is motivating to track those goals – whether it is for fitness, counting calories, or both. Some websites claim that for many people 10,000 steps a day is not realistic. But considering most people walk 2000-3000 steps a day anyway, it is not the least bit unrealistic to increase it to 5,000 and then over a period of time, to 10,000.
Depending on a person’s stride, 10,000 steps is four to five miles. A shorter walking stride measures out to 4.4 miles. A ten kilometre run or walk, is six miles, which most people can manage, especially if the terrain is flat. The objective is to not only do those 10K walks for fund raising events, but to make it a habit at least five days of the week.
The other factor is time. It takes time to walk five or six miles a day. If you are a brisk walker, you will need to spend about ninety minutes out walking, and for slower walkers, a couple of hours. Considering it is healthy to get at least two hours of fresh air each day, setting the 10,000 steps as a goal, includes a daily dose of sunshine and fresh air.
Recently I have been walking the Rotary and Vedder River trails in Chilliwack, after living and walking on Haida Gwaii, and then in Vancouver for many years. After living on West Broadway and walking the Broadway corridor in Vancouver for several years, it is a breath of fresh air to be walking the river and dyke trails, with the river on one side, mountain views, and lush farmland with horses, goats, cattle, ducks, herons, on a well kept trail network. It is a walkers dream paradise!
Until I got out of the city, I did not realize how many things you have to watch out for when walking in the city. Right turning cars will often approach the intersections without stopping, while simultaneously looking to the left. Many of them ignore the fact it is a green light for the pedestrians, so you have to pay attention and wait until you know if they are paying attention.
A similar situation occurs when vehicles stop or pull forward to get a better view of traffic, and block the crosswalk on a pedestrian green light. Often, your only choice is to walk behind the vehicle. However, left turning traffic may not see you coming out from behind a truck or SUV when they take that twenty second window when there is a break in the traffic, to make a left turn.
The worst and most hazardous in my opinion, though – are the cyclists on the sidewalks. It’s not so bad if they are considerate and go slow while illegally riding on the sidewalk. But many of them do the opposite. They barrel down the centre of the sidewalk expecting people to get out of their way. And worse yet, will cycle down the Broadway corridor like a bat out of hell, weaving between pedestrians, dogs, strollers, people with walkers – and you or I – who might just be side-stepping or veering away from something on the sidewalk at that moment.
Each time a cyclist narrowly misses running into you from behind, you cannot help but think how crazy and unsafe it is for an adult to ride a bike very fast, down the middle of a sidewalk. There have been countless pedestrian injuries as a result. For those cyclists who think it is safer, hitting a pedestrian, a plate glass window, a bus stop, a dog on a leash, or getting thrown into oncoming traffic – defies logic.
As a matter of fact, many city cyclists will go from the sidewalk to the road or the road to the sidewalk without warning. They will cycle on the pedestrian crosswalks even if they are crowded. At the Kits beach crossings, they often will not even stop when they are cycling on the road and there is a red light, once again, narrowly missing or intimidating pedestrians who are trying to cross the road on a walk light.
If you walk a fair bit in Vancouver, you will soon realize that some cyclists are considerate and obey rules, while many do not. Therefore, you have to keep a wary eye to anticipate what they might do next, since there is no rhyme or reason to the way they operate. Some of them have attitude, like everyone but them are lard asses, and burning fossil fuels. They got their lard asses, ass backwards somehow!
A far-out country trail network, happens to be ideal for cyclists, horse back riders and pedestrians. I would have expected way more cyclists to be riding the trails out here. But so far, not one of them has dominated the trails, or come up fast behind me without warning. Trail blazers of all types, are much more polite, even though, in this case – they have every right to be on the trails. Oddly enough, I guess it makes some “less wobbly” sense – and might tie into stories describing the differences between the city mouse and the country mouse.
The same goes for horses. I have not had to condition myself for being startled by a horse either. And when I see them coming – I don’t want to startle them either! It works both ways!
It just goes to show you – we can’t take those 10,000 steps for granted. Every worthwhile goal has its hurdles. I suppose when it is salmon season, there will be bears along the riverbanks too. I actually think they are safer than city cyclists on the sidewalk – since being in the country tends to make us both shy away from close encounters! After all, common sense dictates we must avoid hazards, if we are going to stick to the goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day!