Martin Lewis: I averaged 23,513 steps per day (burning 3,600 calories) in 2018 – here's how...

Martin Lewis: I averaged 23,513 steps per day (burning 3,600 calories) in 2018 – here's how...

Regular blog readers will know I'm obsessed with fitness tracking statistics. So it's time for my annual report. According to my tracker, I did 8,582,412 steps in 2018 – a silly amount, but not quite as ridiculous as 2017, when it was 9,278,393.

In fact I started last year's 2017 steps blog by saying "one of my resolutions is to do a little fewer, as getting these steps has taken over my life to an extent", and I've moderately succeeded in doing that, just taking the edge off the step compulsion.

This year I concentrated on consistency. I know many people who binge step – they do a big week here or there – but I've found the benefit comes from never letting up.

It's now well over two years since I last missed my daily vibration (nothing saucy – just what happens when I hit 10,000 steps). I do this through hell and high water (or more accurately when taking a flight, ill or even getting up early before a minor operation).

The 2018 step stats

The total number of steps in the 2018 calendar year was 8,582,412, which equates to a daily average of 23,512. My tracker shows this is a total of 7,866 km, or an average 21.5 km per day (13.3 miles).

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 2,080 km in 2018 (I try to run 'a marathon a week' in total – so around 40k). Yet still by far the bulk of the distance is done walking, a total of 5,786 km.

That's only 50 km less running than last year, though I've done more weight training sessions as I wanted to change the balance (and yes, I do graph that too).

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.

As I blogged my 20152016 and 2017 steps, it means I can easily chart my progression. Though this year for the first year, as I noted at the start, I deliberately holstered my competitive instincts to reduce the total somewhat – as it was getting silly.

Instead I focused on consistency, rather than any huge 200,000+ step weeks. I wanted to never have a bad week, setting myself an absolute floor of 140,000 steps a week.

And indeed the table below shows that – the biggest month, week and day, are far lower than in the past two years. But my overall average isn't – as my worse weeks and months were far better than previously.

Fitness Tracker Stats Comparison

  Steps Kilometers (1)
  Total Daily average Total Daily average
Annual
2018: 8,582,412
2017: 9,278,393
2016: 8,170,127 
2015: 6,351,324
 

2018: 23,512

2017: 25,420
2016: 22,383
2015: 17,400

 

2018: 7,866
2017: 8,202
2016: 7,055
2015: 5,065
 

2018: 21.5
2017: 22.5
2016: 19.3
2015: 13.8
Best calendar month

 

2018: 742,185
2017: 855,833
2016: 791,059 
2015: 631,104
 

 24,740

 687.75

22.3

Best calendar week

 

2018: 186,640
2017: 217,705
2016: 200,202 (would've been 6th best in 2017)
2015: 187,578

26,662

172

24.5

Best day

2018: 36,874
2017: 55,454
2016: 46,106
2015: 38,953

36.9

(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

These days, while I still work a lot of hours, I'm in a position to be able to dictate much of my workflow, which makes doing this number of steps much easier for me than for many people who are desk-bound.

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.

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, my PA kindly organises most of my internal and external meetings (even talking to Ministers or doing newspaper interviews) for me to do on the phone while I'm walking, so the time is never wasted.

I've bought myself a headset with noise cancelling microphone, so the quality isn't too bad for those on the other end.

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 last year I gave my little sister my 14-year-old Smart car. It was used so infrequently it sometimes wouldn't start (and in the rare event I do need to be in a motor, 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.

Last year, I wrote that the negative is that stepping this much has become a near-addiction – and I would manipulate my day and dictate my actions to hit my steps target. Taking my foot off the gas a touch has helped – I am still very step conscious, but think I've managed to balance it a little bit better this year.

Are the steps accurate?

Not 100%, no. In fact, you can watch Mrs MSE 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. I have a number of friends who once they linked with me have substantially upped their steps (still, they rarely top me in a week though – I am super competitive about it).

If you're a stepper too, do let me know below how you've done this year...