By Karyn Gallivan, MS, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT
Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
So, full disclosure here: I am currently training for a fall 2016 marathon, have a running-every-day habit (check out www.runeveryday.com if you get a chance), I am an active Athletic and Personal Trainer, and sometimes even cut my own lawn…. Why would I want to add even more activity to my schedule by joining a team of colleagues in a quest to collect enough steps to get to RIO before the start of the Summer Olympics? I did not want to add one more “to-do” to my day. However, the camaraderie and motivation of the team easily hooked me and off I went.
Standard health and fitness guidelines suggest that folks try to accumulate about 10,000 steps each day for health and fitness benefits. So, the minimum goal was for each of us to shoot for 70,000 steps each week. I figured that, with my increasing running mileage, that this would never be an issue for me.
Lesson #1: I am pretty competitive. I was resistant to use a Fitbit in the beginning but, ultimately I wanted every step (not just running steps) to count for our team, so my wrist sported a nifty Fitbit for a few months.
Lesson #2: While my running is a very good thing, I don’t otherwise take enough steps each day. So, I set an intention to work on that. A good example of this was when I decided to run, not drive, to an appointment that was only 1.5 miles away (after I had already run my scheduled 3 miles).
Lesson #3: I teach full-time online, and for as much as I love my job, it is often not good for my health. I intend to get up and move around more often, but I am not that great at it. Our Road to Rio quest was great because it is taking advantage of the competitor that is lurking in all of us and making us think about moving more. I am happy to report that I have dramatically changed my work habits, getting up every 40 minutes or so for at least a few minutes of walking. In addition, I spend time standing and working, which no doubt, has helped to alleviate some of the achiness/tightness I always feel in my back and shoulders because I sit so much.
Finally, lesson #4: In looking back to the beginning of this challenge, I was reminded of my quest for 10,000 steps per day and, I have to be honest, without this marathon training in my schedule, it would have been a great challenge to reach 70,000/week.
In addition, I have already used these lessons to help my personal training clients. This is what we deal with all the time with our patients/clients/athletes –figuring out how to help change habits toward more consistent health behaviors will be the key to lasting positive change. Very often, it is only because of lack of awareness and accountability that an athlete/client has plateaued. Habits develop insidiously, so being reminded to do the basics and coming up with additional ways to motivate someone to maintain their fitness program is something to always be aware of.
A few weeks ago, I received a message that our team has reached Rio by collectively accumulating more than 10,000,000. Individually, my teammates have lost weight, healed from an injury, and become healthier. Looking back at my introduction, I can honestly say that my biggest lesson is that the camaraderie and motivation, along with the accountability (and competitiveness) of having to report my step count each week made me keenly aware of the habits that I need to change. Without all of this, my daily step count would seldom reach the optimal levels for health and fitness. Keep moving everyone!