Getting Healthier 10,000 Steps at a Time

I’ve been writing about multiple sclerosis and chronic health topics every week for over 8 years. There is very little chance that I’m in denial regarding the state of my health or disability. Only rarely have I overestimated my ability to do something.

I’m fortunate to be a person living with MS who responds well to treatment and has even experienced an unexpected improvement of physical function after changing disease-modifying therapy 6 years ago.

Last year when my doctor recommended that I strive to walk 10,000 steps every day, I was dubious. But I was also not sure how many steps I might be getting on a routine basis because I wasn’t measuring them. When I got a Fitbit, I was excited to be able to see just how much I was moving (or not) around the house on a normal day.

What I quickly discovered was that during a typical day, I really only walk about 3,000 steps while working at home. On days that I’m more active, I reach 5,000 steps; and if I go out and about, I may reach 7,000 steps. I never get close to the recommended 10,000 steps on a normal day.

Earlier in the summer, Rob and I were in Chicago for a conference. We took a brief walk on Saturday afternoon in the downtown area to get in some exercise after a long day of sitting in meetings. Later in the evening we walked down to the Navy Pier area to watch fireworks over the water.

After returning to the hotel, I checked my Fitbit and noticed that I had reached about 9,100 steps. I was so excited. “Rob, we have to go back out. I might actually be able to get in 10,000 steps if we walk up and down the block one more time. Come on, let’s go!”

Not long thereafter I noticed that the step counter on my Fitbit was no longer going up. It had stopped around 9,200 steps. Hey, what’s up? I thought. Turns out that my device was still on East Coast time while the app was on Central time. Bummer, I wasn’t going to get the digital “badge” proving that I had finally achieved 10,000 steps. I felt cheated.

Earlier this month, Rob and I took an evening walk. We didn’t have a specific goal in mind as to how far we might go or where. We just closed the front door behind us and starting walking. After reaching a nearby elementary school, we kept going. Once we got to one of the main streets through our small community, we decided to turn on the road and head to the Starbucks to get a drink after which we took a different path home.

The walk was almost 3 miles roundtrip and I finally reached 10,000 steps! Whoo hoo, the first time since I had started using the Fitbit almost 16 months prior I had walked as much as is recommended daily for a healthy individual. Going modest distances is not the challenge that it once was and some people might not think me disabled at all.

I am so very thankful to be doing so well, although I do wish to be able to do even more. But at least I do know that if I push really hard (and do basically nothing the following day), I can walk 10,000 steps in a day. Maybe I’ll try to work up to doing just that at least once a month in the next year. Having lost 55 pounds since last November, I feel more confident that I really can achieve goals once I’ve made up my mind to do so. MS be damned; there’s no denying I’m getting healthier each year.

Lisa Emrich | Follow me on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Pinterest

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