10,000 steps an unholy goal - without a plan

By Amelia Wade

Christmas Fitbit is blessing and curse after competitive nature of friends and colleagues emerges.
Amelia Wade is a convert to walking to the ferry and heading downstairs for a break while at work. Photo / Greg Bowker
Amelia Wade is a convert to walking to the ferry and heading downstairs for a break while at work. Photo / Greg Bowker

This New Year, I resolved to quit elevators. And buses. And using the restroom on the same floor that I work on.

All in the name of doing as many steps as possible to please my Fitbit.

Unwrapping the piece of technology on Christmas morning, I wasn't quite sure how to interpret its tacit meaning. Why not just get me a set of bathroom scales and write, "Dear Fatty" on the card?

"No, no, it's just because you're competitive," the gifter implored to a narrow-eyed and sceptical me.

But it quickly became both a blessing and a curse, preying on my deep character flaw that I must always win and am not a decent human being when I don't.

After spotting the device on my wrist, my workmate excitedly exclaimed she had one too and that we could be Fitbit friends! It was on.

I quickly realised a regular day at the office wasn't enough to hit the recommended daily goal of 10,000 steps, about 8km. I had to step up my game. Instead of catching the bus along the 3.5km to the ferry, I now walk. The restroom down a flight of stairs is my new local. And days off are spent striding - all to rack up the steps.

The Fitbit HR is proud of me when I hit 10,000 steps. It vibrates and lights up. And when I don't, it has nothing to celebrate - it's not angry, it just seems disappointed.

Sometimes though, it's not my fault. On Tuesday, I'd done all I could before I got to work. I'd walked to the ferry, I'd sat on the top deck and bought my coffee on the bottom deck, I'd walked the long way to the office, collecting just over 4000 steps in the process. But once I sat down, I quickly realised it would be a day tied to my chair and phone.

By 2pm, I'd added maybe another 70 steps to my daily total.

My Fitbit friend Chris, who is "between jobs" and has nothing better to do than to grind my gears, saw my daily efforts were lacking and sent me a "taunt" via the technology's app. He'd already hit 10,000. I tossed my mobile aside in anger.

Two hours later, I picked it up off the floor and saw the deputy editor who was on a day off and had spent the day chasing after his kids. He'd also hit the holy grail of activity.

"Have you just got out of bed?"

I saw red and ran down to the basement and back. It wasn't enough. I was losing and it's infuriating. How dare they challenge my throne atop the Fitbit leader table, today of all days when I can't do anything about it.

Then it hit me. I saw the light. A hack to the system: a 10km run after work. That'll teach 'em.

Putting Fitbit to the test

Fitbit devices have come under fire for being allegedly inaccurate, so the Herald put the device to the ultimate Auckland test - the Sky Tower.

The 51-floor climb from the bottom to the viewing platform has been meticulously counted and comes in at 1267 steps. With two extra steps taken at each flight, that meant the total should have been 1369.

I made sure to place a foot on every stair and after exactly 14.31 minutes, 51 flights of stairs and with a heart rate of 178bpm, I burst through the fire doors into the light. The step count? 1308.

Not far off, but somewhere along the way, 61 steps got lost.

- NZ Herald

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