I’m going to blow my cover here. What with being a poster girl for riding a bike in all kinds of clothes and all kinds of weather, I have people reasonably convinced that I’m “active.”
They say that very thing: “Oh, you’re so active!” Like yeast, or yogurt cultures.
The truth is that I bike because I’m lazy. A pedometer proves that in no uncertain terms, which is why I need to wear one.
I like keeping track of my healthy activities in a log—seeing all those days when I do something gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me want to keep the string going. When I started adding steps to the bike mileage, that gave me a reality check on just how little I do some days!
Here’s why: My ride to work is a hair under 2.5 miles, which takes me around 9 minutes of pedaling. If I don’t run any errands or go to meetings and ride home at the end of the day, I’ve done under 5 miles—around 23 minutes total riding time or thereabouts (hey, it’s uphill on the way home—takes longer).
I don’t ride fast because I don’t particularly want to sweat, so this isn’t vigorous training time. When I get to work I may think, “I rode my bike to work, didn’t I?” and take the elevator to my fifth-floor office.
If I plug that bit of bike time into a standard activity calculator like the Step Up Spokane one that translates time into steps, it’s around 4,600 steps—less than half of the healthy target of 10,000 steps per day.
If I have a day that doesn’t involve meetings outside the office, it’s probably also a day plugged into my two-monitor set-up so tightly I may as well be physically jacked into the system. I sit-sit-sit, staring at the screen, leaning forward a little in my chair until the backs of my legs go dead.
What I do not do is get up and walk around.
But if I’m wearing the pedometer, that moment of arrival at the building represents a chance to rack up steps climbing the stairs to my office. I get up and walk down the hall to talk to a colleague instead of shooting her an email (crazy, I know!). I may take a stretch break and walk down a couple of flights and back up. I walk down the stairs at the end of the day.
Wearing the pedometer is the first step (walking pun!). But it’s the power of writing it down and looking at patterns that really makes this work. If I wore a pedometer but didn’t log the data I wouldn’t have any sense of how one day compares to another. I wouldn’t be able to recognize that riding my bike gives me the illusion of more activity than is actually occurring.
And I wouldn’t have the sense of satisfaction I get on a “high mileage” day: one that includes lots of walking in addition to biking.
Barb Chamberlain, bike advocate, blogger, business owner, and communications pro at WSU Spokane, helps get people rolling with more advice and fun bike fashion shopping events at Bike Style Spokane.