In The Blue Zones, author Dan Buettner investigates the cultures that live the longest, from Sardinia, Italy, to Okinawa, Japan. One key ingredient is daily movement.
“Longevity all-stars don’t run marathons or compete in triathlons; they don’t transform themselves into weekend warriors on Saturday morning. Instead, they engage in regular, low-intensity physical activity, often as part of a daily work routine.” – Dan Buettner
One of my favorite low-intensity physical activities is walking. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest hits in my family this Christmas was a Fitbit. (One for me, one for dad, and one for my 18-year old brother, Jack. In other words, the non-marathon runners of the Toups clan.)
Not only does the Fitbit track steps like a pedometer, but the Fitbit app allows us monitor each others progress, message and cheer (or taunt) each other on, and challenge each other to various step competitions. (There is also a sleep tracker and a food plan feature, which I am only just beginning to explore.)
Getting my steps in, rain or snow (or both!)
The preset goal on the Fitbit is 10,000 steps per day, which is roughly five miles (this step goal is adjustable in the settings of the app). According to Buettner, “walking five miles a day or more provides the type of low-intensity exercise that yields all the cardiovascular benefits you might expect, but it also has a positive effect on muscles and bones–without the joint-pounding damage caused by running marathons or triathlons.”
Once you make a habit of taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the park instead of driving, and running errands on foot whenever possible, 10,000 steps a day becomes much more attainable. Robert Kane’s quote in The Blue Zones drives this point home. “Rather than exercising for the sake of exercising, try to make changes to your lifestyle… chances are that you will sustain that behavior for a much longer time. And the name of the game here is sustaining.”
Scenes from my Back Bay commute
Thankfully, I live and work in Boston, so my weekday routine has a lot more walking built in (1.5 miles to work each way) than that of the average suburban office worker. However, my weekends tend to be a bit lazier. It’s been fun trying to build in some extra steps into my regular routine with the Fitbit, especially when I can see that my dad and brother are edging ahead of me. What’s your trick to getting more steps in?
(Psst… Note to the fashion-savvy: Tory Burch makes gorgeous hinged bracelets that can fit the Fitbit flex tracker.)