Friday, September 12, 2008

10K a Day... And Then Some!

I went for my yearly physical last week, and was pleased to be given a clean bill of health. "Your numbers look great, your bloodwork is good... so I'll tell you what I tell everybody in your age group," my doctor concluded. "Don't smoke." (I rolled my eyes. Duh.) "Always wear a seatbelt." (Again- Duh.) "And keep on exercising."

He must have seen the look pass over my face because he said, "You DO exercise, don't you?"

"Uh, well, um... not so much," I hung my head with shame. "Unless you count chasing after six kids every day as exercise?"

I was hopeful for a moment until he smiled and said, "Nope. You need to be doing at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week, and at least 20 minutes of strength-training at least twice a week if you want to stay as healthy as you are."

Oh. Because I actually wouldn't mind getting a lot healthier than I currently am. But I at least want to maintain what little fitness I've got!

"Did I mention that I have a lot of kids?" I persisted. "I mean, seriously, I'm not making excuses here, but I honestly have no idea how to fit all that into my schedule."

"Where there's a will, there's a way," he said, closing my chart. "Make it a priority. Schedule it into your week. Make it happen."

Spoken like a man. A man who doesn't have to drink his breakfast while dropping carpool kids off to school and rushing back to get the next kid onto a bus. Spoken like a man who has an entire hour off for lunch in which he can either chow down at the nearby Chili's or go for a jog and still fit a shower in afterwards. Spoken like a man who can probably eke out more than 5 minutes a day to himself without somebody else having a major melt-down.

Sorry, did that sound bitter? It's just that my days are so crazy-busy that I can only dream of having an extra 30 minutes in a day where I might actually have enough energy to do more than drop onto the couch and promptly fall asleep!

But the fitness thing is a priority to me. (I mean, I drink a protein/beet/spinach/wheat germ concoction every morning for breakfast. I am really trying here!) So I was working up a plan for this dilemma when I saw an article in the newspaper (as I was cleaning off the coffee table) called, "10K a Day". It was all about how research has proven that the average American only walks 3000 - 5000 steps a day, yet people in top physical form walk at least 10,000 steps a day. The article suggested that you can vastly improve and maintain your fitness level if you can work up to 10,000 steps a day.

And a ray of hope shined through my fitness doom. This might actually be something I can do! I bought a pedometer, calibrated it to my stride length, and prepared to add a lot of extra pacing to my usual routine. I made up a little chart in my head for how to gradually increase myself to the 10,000 steps a day. I was set.

I clipped the pedometer on the next morning and forgot about it until around 9 am. It said I had already walked 3000 steps. Worried that it was malfunctioning, I tested it a few times and was surprised that my pedometer was working correctly. And then I forgot about it again until noon, when upon checking, I was stunned to see that I'd clocked 6000 steps. So I tested it again. It was still working.

By 10pm (and my day not near over yet), I was near 13,000 steps, which is over 6 miles. I mused over the fact that it had been just an ordinary day. I hadn't even added in any extra pacing yet! Weird.

The second day was much like the first: I ended up at nearly 13,000 steps.

The third day was a bit of a let-down: I was tired and not feeling well, and spent a lot more time sitting down than usual. But I still was at nearly 11,000 steps.

I haven't worn the pedometer since. It served its purpose by proving to me that I do, in fact, exercise EVERY DAY. I just didn't know it! And, yes, I realize that 30 minutes straight of cardio would be optimal. And I also realize that I need to someday work in some strength training (bearing in mind of course that I regularly lift 30 - 40 pounds of kids up and down off countertops, couches, carseats and beds on a nonstop basis... does that qualify?) But I'm still happy to know that I'm not atrophying away while I'm too busy to officially be working out.

So the proof was in the pedometer. And, in answer to your question, Doc, apparently chasing after six kids all day does, in fact, count for something!


Julie Konchar said...

This doesn't surprise me a bit! You rock! (and walk!) I don't think I have ever seen a mom of trips or more who isn't in good condition. You couldn't be a couch potato if you tried. (And you did--11,000 steps.) Me? I KNOW I would be struggling to reach 5 or 6,000. Because I sit, A LOT. That is why my gym mornings are non-negotiable. Because I know I'll never make it up during the day.

kelly said...

first you look awesome, not just because you are the mom of triplets, just because! second, mom's do excersise, think of those car seats you cart around on your arm for a year,major workout and toe touches picking up toys etc. i wouldn't stress over it as long as you are healthy!!
love you!

SpaceyKasey said...

Surely you shouldn't go to a doctor who is smoking crack. :)

Of course you exercise! And how.

Mindy said...

I love it! I would like to see the dear doctor's face when you tell him! Not to mention a lot of those steps are stairs or holding a 30-40 pound kid - you should get extra for that. Isn't that called strenght training?