Going the Extra Mile

Plenty of excuses sound reasonable to me when it comes to not exercising. I have a full-time job as an account executive for this magazine (would anyone like to buy an ad?), I’m the mother of a 3-year-old (hello, Hayden), and I have a home to somewhat maintain (it’s a mess). Plus, my body type makes it easier to pass on exercise when acquaintances tell me, “You’re already thin. You don’t need to work out.”

My doctor disagrees. My HDL, or “good cholesterol,” is too low. That HDL would carry my bad cholesterol away from my arteries and into my liver, an organ that moves the bad stuff out of my body. Without enough HDL, my body can’t remove excess cholesterol from the arterial plaque. I may be slim, but I’m at risk for heart disease.

The gym is not for me, though, due to my packed schedule. Instead, I opted for a pedometer. It’s small (just centimeters wide), cheap ($8), and motivating (move!).

The rest is up to me. I’m constantly on appointments for my job, so I park my car close to work. Too often, I use the visitors’ parking spots. They’re closer to the door, and I’m in and out quickly. I also have a fondness for taking the elevator to our second-floor office. It defeats the purpose of my need for speed, but sometimes waiting for the elevator is the only break I get. Finally, I tend to overuse e-mail, including sending some to people in our office — and a few who sit next to me.

When I bought my pedometer, that all changed. The furthest spot in the parking lot became mine; the stairs were the only method between the first and second floors. I saw a lot more of my co-workers, which they may not have liked, but I needed more steps.

The concept seems deceptively ineffective. Don’t I need to be banging out more reps at the gym or crunching my abs? Not if I don’t want to. The healthy goal is 10,000 steps a day (nearly five miles), and a sedentary person averages between 1,000 and 3,000. The most steps I took in one day was 14,000, totaling 5.96 miles and burning 453 calories, according to my pedometer.

The stairs were the most beneficial. Steps are everywhere, and I rarely embraced them as an exercise option. Climbing stairs is an exercise routine providing maximum value in minimum time, with low impact. It’s the vertical element that makes stair-climbing more impactful than something like jogging, done horizontally, of course. It’s one reason why tower running has become a popular trend in cities such as Las Vegas (“Scale the Strat”) and Chicago (“Hustle up the Hancock”).

I haven’t used the pedometer long enough to see if my good cholesterol will stay with me, but these three weeks filled with steps have raised my energy level. That means a better performance on the clock and at home. The little pedometer has been the motivation I needed to be the little ad rep that could go the extra mile.

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