The Fitbit Challenge: One Student vs. 10,000 Steps

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A recent BBC article claimed that aiming for 10,000 steps a day was a “meaningless fitness goal”. As an avid Fitbit user, I took it upon myself to explore this and complete 10,000 steps a day for a week and see how I felt. Whether the result was feeling much fitter, out of puff or exactly the same. 

Fitness apps are becoming increasingly popular. The Fitbit app has been downloaded over ten million times on the Google Play store. When you sync your FitBit device to your phone, the app asks you to set various targets for yourself that you want to improve upon, such as aiming for a certain number of steps a day or aiming to be increasingly active for more hours of the day.

The most common and popular daily step target is 10,000 steps which the NHS equates this to roughly five miles. I’m glad I only found this out now because I can definitely think of more appealing things to do than walking five miles a day. Thewalkingsite.com claim that “A sedentary person may only average 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day.” This person is likely to work in an office job or be a particularly lazy second year, like myself.

Credit: Pixabay

I have always been a particularly lazy person: not a huge fan of sports day, not a great fan of any exercise unless it’s running for the ice cream van etc. However, I was very lucky when I was gifted a Fitbit for my birthday. I don’t know whether this gift was a subtle hint from my mother or not, but I do feel that it encourages me to walk more because when I fulfill my goal I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I know it’s not a marathon but it feels like it is for a lazy person.

My walking challenge got off to an encouraging start, often exceeding my 10,000 step goal by a healthy couple of thousand. This felt particularly rewarding as it was if the fitness app was betting against me and I truly put it to shame with my 12,647 steps! When I meet my daily step target, my Fitbit Flex wristband vibrates and the little screen does a dance and I always like that. I’m very easily pleased.

Credit: Pixabay

However, I have to admit, nearing the end of the week, I was far from 10,000 for at least one of the days. It doesn’t help that I don’t have many contact hours for English so I spend a lot of time reading at home. When I failed, I did feel guilty. I know the only person it was affecting was me but I felt like I had let myself and my little Fitbit wristband down. Some days I found myself aimlessly walking around my house in a hopeless attempt to make up four thousand steps and was upset when it didn’t work out.

Credit: Julia Beazley

My experience with 10,000 steps supports and contradicts BBC’s claim that the target is “meaningless”. After trying to do a week of 10,000 steps a day, I feel…pretty much the same. When I failed my target, I could feel it hanging above my head every time I stood still. I don’t feel as if my health has benefitted significantly from this increase in exercise however, I did find myself feeling much more accomplished when I went to bed knowing I had fulfilled my target for the day.

It’s a good way of getting more exercise without having to pay £165 for a gym membership for me to just cry on a treadmill, eating a Crunchie. What do you think?

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Second year English student. Enjoys tea, dungarees and Masterchef.

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