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As a public health professional, I have been behind messages to improve health, especially those encouraging physical activity. Plus, have you seen this article about the health hazards of sitting? I decided to challenge myself to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps-a-day. I documented my progress over the last two weeks, in the hope that, you too, will join me in this quest for 10,000 steps.

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In order to track my progress, I invested in a Fitbit, a small device designed to track physical activity levels. I thought that by monitoring my activity, I could see where I have room for improvement and motivate myself to do better. I naively thought that I’d reach my 10,000 steps-a-day goal with minimal effort. Boy, was I wrong.

As I write this around 5 PM on Thursday, I’ve only logged 1,243 steps. In order to make it to my daily goal of 10,000, I have 8,757 to log in the next five hours! Is it impossible? No. Does it require time and energy at the end of the day? Oh, yes.

The first few days that I wore my Fitbit, I realized how little I move while at the office and how that set me way behind on my goal to move more and sit less. How could I improve?

  • Put distance between the office and printer: I now print to the printer down the hall rather than the one conveniently located outside my office.
  • Visit co-workers: Instead of picking up the phone to connect with my co-workers, I walk to their offices. This has the added benefit of actual human interaction during the day, rather than interaction solely through email.

The reality of working in an office still requires a fair amount of screen time, so I began to think of how I could improve my step count outside the office.

20140410_182810With spring in the air, I’ve come out of hibernation and have a desire to explore the outdoors rather than spend time on a treadmill in a humid gym. I decided to find practical ways to integrate exercise into my life.

  • Park and walk: No parking spots close to your destination? That’s not a problem! Just park in the furthest spot and walk.
  • Put on sneakers instead of grabbing the keys: Rather than driving to run errands, walk! This can even count as weight lifting if you buy a gallon or two of milk. A bonus is that it’s good for the environment. Are the stores too far? Taking mass transit can help you get moving too. Try getting off a few stops early and walking the rest of the way.
  • Get outside: Weekends now include outdoor activities, like hitting the trails or walking the neighborhood.
  • Go shopping: Take a trip to the mall for window-shopping, in event of rain. With discipline, it can be light on the wallet and serve as a change in scenery. Local markets might also serve as a way to get out and get some exercise.

On an average workday, I currently log a little over 5,000 steps, equivalent to about 2 miles, and I’m not giving up on my goal to hit 10,000! It certainly is a challenge but it’s not impossible to integrate “move more, sit less” into a daily routine.

I challenge you to take 10,000 steps a day and let us know how you are doing it. Comment here or tweet @preventcancer.

We can do it.