In January 2021, a friend shared their New Year’s resolution with me: to walk 10,000 steps a day. At that time, I was recovering from a champagne hangover and was skeptical about the idea of walking aimlessly in the freezing New York City winter. However, when I checked my iPhone’s Health app and saw that I had only been averaging 5,361 steps a day in 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdowns, I felt a slight motivation to give it a try.
Throughout January and February, I made half-hearted attempts to reach the 10,000-step goal. I couldn’t understand how my friend was so dedicated to daily exercise, especially after a full day of working from home. By March, I had given up completely and my daily exercise consisted of a trip to the grocery store, or sometimes no activity at all.
However, in August, two things changed my mindset. First, I saw my friend for the first time in months and witnessed their impressive 50-pound weight loss. Second, I weighed myself for the first time in a year. These two events pushed me to reconsider my lifestyle.
On August 9th, I completed my first official day of walking with a step count of 10,200. Unfortunately, I immediately experienced a severe migraine headache that forced me to lie down. The next day was no different, leading me to question if my body was not suited for such long walks or if the impact on the pavement was triggering my headaches.
I realized that a year without exercise had left me unaware of the impact of walking in the summer heat on my hydration levels. Once I increased my water intake, I found that walking 10,000 steps a day was a realistic and achievable goal, even for someone like me who had little interest in exercise before.
During my five months of walking 10,000 steps a day, I have experienced several positive changes. Firstly, my mental health has noticeably improved. Walking outside reminded me of the things I missed about the city and allowed me to reconnect with friends and family during long phone calls. Researchers have highlighted the positive impact of exercise on mental wellbeing.
Secondly, my physical appearance has changed. My legs and arms have become slimmer, and the appearance of cellulite on my thighs has lessened. I have lost a total of 15 pounds without making significant changes to my diet, contradicting a study that suggested walking 10,000 steps a day does not prevent weight gain.
Furthermore, my physical health has improved. Walking up-hill no longer leaves me out of breath, and I can easily achieve my daily step goal without feeling strained. Research has shown that walking a certain number of steps per day is linked to a lower risk of mortality.
Although the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day was initially an arbitrary number, chosen by a Japanese clock company in the 1960s, it has been a useful target for me on my journey towards improved health. Despite its consumerist origins, it has allowed me to see positive changes in both my mental and physical well-being.
In conclusion, walking 10,000 steps a day has had a significant impact on my lifestyle. It has improved my mental health, helped me lose weight, and enhanced my overall physical health. I now understand why my friend was so dedicated to this goal and I am grateful for the positive effects it has had on my life.