I’m obsessed with fitness tracking statistics. I’ve just checked and I did 9,278,393 steps in 2017 – a ridiculous amount. So much so that this year one of my resolutions is to do a little fewer, as getting these steps has taken over my life to an extent. So I thought it worth bashing out the stats, how I’ve done it and the impact (good and bad)…
First the stats…
Last Sunday, I vibrated at about 2pm – nothing saucy – my tracker just buzzed as it does when I hit 10,000 steps. Yet this vibration was special – as for the first time it meant I’d buzzed every day for a calendar year. Last year I was close to hitting this target but pulled my hamstring in October and missed three days.
Yet very rarely do I stop at 10,000 steps, hence the 25,420 average. Here’s the 2017 breakdown…
- Over 50,000 steps: 2 days
- Over 40,000 steps: 8 days
- Over 30,000 steps: 80 days
- Over 20,000 steps: 316 days
- Over 10,000 steps: 365 days
To those wondering what distance that translates to, in 2017, my tracker app shows I did a total of 8,202 km, so an average of 22.5 km (14 miles) a day.
I wear the tracker for running and walking, and as I have a separate running graph (using a GPS watch for more accuracy), that shows I ran a big personal record 2,132 km in 2017 (I usually did a 12-15 km run every other day). Yet still by far the bulk of the distance is done walking, which totalled 6,070 km.
This isn’t chicken and egg – my progress is due to wearing a tracker
I first got my fitness tracker in 2015, and it had an instant impact on me. Then again I’m both a numbers person and ferociously competitive so it hits my psyche square on. It won’t necessarily do that for everyone. As soon as I got it I started walking more, and that’s continually increased.
Fitness Tracker Stats Comparison
|Total||Daily average||Total||Daily average|
|Best calendar month||855,833
2016: 791,059 (would’ve been 5th best this year)
2015: 631,104 (only Feb in 2017 was worse)
|Best calendar week||217,705
2016: 200,202 (would’ve been 6th best in 2017)
|(1) These aren’t necessarily the same ‘best’ week or month as for steps. Bigger kilometre weeks tend to be those when I’ve run more. But you do fewer steps running a kilometre than walking so it doesn’t always equate.|
How I do this number of steps
I very rarely get any form of transport now – except the bus to take mini MSE to school (I then walk back) and the Good Morning Britain car early on a Thursday morning.
Yet usually I walk to and from MSE Towers, and elsewhere in London, off to ITV or Parliament or wherever I am going for meetings. Walking across town and back more than once in a day for meetings is commonplace. So as not to lose productivity, I do as many meetings as I can on the phone while I’m doing it, so the time is never wasted.
Plus even if I’m on the phone and don’t have a journey, it is now habitual to find myself walking around the room as I make the call. Doing this for a 30-minute call can add a couple of thousand steps (and if I’m not at the target I want to hit, yes I will walk round while watching TV to hit it late at night).
The change has been so significant, that a few months ago I gave my little sister my 14-year-old Smart car. It was used so infrequently it sometimes wouldn’t start (and we use Mrs MSE’s car as the family car).
The health impact and cost
I’m substantially lighter than when I started stepping – no surprise as I’m burning 3,500-4,000 calories a day. My core strength has increased, and a lot of my repetitive strain injury and back pain has gone (I’d never put this together until I mentioned it to a physio and he asked if I now walked more as apparently it’s a great help for backs).
It’s also been very good for stress levels. Not just the running which I see as a great boon to mental health, but also the walking – for the few minutes off the phone when I’m walking, a little bit of me time in a day is useful.
The negative is that stepping this much has become a near-addiction. I find I manipulate my day and dictate my actions by my steps, sometimes not wanting to go somewhere fun as I won’t be able to get enough steps in a day (Mrs MSE is good at persuading me to overcome that). I’ve had minor surgery and food poisoning and still got out of my sick bed to hit my 10,000 target.
All of that has convinced me to take my foot off the gas (or pavement) a little. This will be helped by the fact I am shifting my exercise regime to do less running (as plantar fasciitis, hip knots and shin splints keep taking their toll) and switching more to weights.
Having said that, I still intend to do 140,000 steps or more most weeks so I’m not slacking off that much!
Are the steps accurate?
Not 100%, no. In fact you can watch Mrs MSE’s wearing four different trackers for a week to see how inaccurate they are. Yet that doesn’t matter. I compete with myself based on the same metrics – number of steps in a day.
And my fixation hasn’t only helped me – when friends who are linked via the app see my steps, they often up their own steppage. Only one has become regular competition, though: a friend of my sister’s (you know who you are). Each week we egg each other on (virtually) and both of us have upped steps since that competition started (so far she’s only ever won the most-steps-in-a-week battle against me four times, but she’s another reason I did more steps this year).
Which fitness tracker should I get?
I have a Fitbit, and I’m unlikely to change as it has all my data stored on it, a good app, and I’m connected to lots of friends. I especially like the Pavlovian effect of the buzz it makes when I hit 10,000 steps. But I’ve not really tried others so they may be just as good, if not better. In terms of buying them, there’s the MSE cheap fitness tracker deals page for price info.
If you’re a stepper too – do let me know below how you’ve done this year…
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