Molly McKnight
May 04, 2016 9:29 am
iStock / Steve Debenport

Fitness trackers have become an “it” thing in the workout world, and also in everyday life. I had always considered myself pretty active, so for awhile, I didn’t think I needed a device on my wrist to motivate me to take 10,000 steps a day. It wasn’t until I received a FitBit for Christmas this past year that I really decided to drink the “I need to get more steps” koolaid and wear my FitBit daily.

Once I figured out how to use the thing and started setting my step goals each week, I decided why not take it up a notch and join a challenge with a few other friends that also have the device? And wow, did I learn some things about myself and my daily and weekly active (or not-so-active sometimes) lifestyle. Here’s what I learned during the challenge.

Turns out, I had some room for improvement.

When I first started wearing my fitness tracker, I thought I was super active because 9 times out of 10 I’d hit the step goal that they recommend. No big deal, right? Well, once I started doing the workweek challenges with my friends (a Monday-Friday challenge), I realized that maybe 10,000 wasn’t the best I could be doing. If I’m able to hit that number by a daily workout of some kind, and the amount of activity I’m doing during my day job and a little bit of activeness in the evenings at home, why shouldn’t I kick it up a bit and strive for a little more? Sure, there will be days that life gets in the way of being as active as I’d like, but there are most definitely days where I have the opportunity of going for an additional walk at night after dinner, instead of those extra 30 minutes of reality TV time. Everyone’s goal is personal — it should be based on your own health and lifestyle, but it really was eye-opening for my goals once I saw what other friends were able to do.

It really made me aware of how much I sit at work.

This one was a big one! Having a 9-5 type day job in the corporate world doesn’t always allow for tons of walking around. Sitting in front of the computer all day every day does not help you get many steps! I realized that before I was tracking my daily steps, I didn’t think much about the inactivity that the workday can bring. It also makes me realize how other occupations, such as nurses, people who walk from place to place all day, people who travel on a weekly/daily basis, can get more steps just by default. So now I’m much more aware of how much I’m sitting and try to use little things like getting up for trips to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle, and taking the long way when walking to get my lunch, can help add a little activity to my desk job.

Forcing myself to be cognizant about getting up and out is good for physical and mental health.

Especially during the work week, and long, busy days, it would be so easy to work through lunches or use free time for sitting and relaxing, rather than getting a few extra steps in where possible. Now, after I’ve started tracking my steps and participating in these fun challenges, I’m way more apt to take a walk during my lunch hour, which helps both in getting steps and also getting fresh air and time to decompress. It didn’t take much time at all to see how much of a difference getting in that lunchtime walk really helped elevate my mood and afternoon productivity at work. And especially this time of year, getting a few extra minutes of sunshine is a no-brainer!

A little fun competition never hurt anyone.

The whole point of the challenge is to be a competition, and sometimes we all need that competitive fire in us to push us to the next level. My friends all compete in a very friendly manner, but I definitely know we all secretly want to win each week. So even if it’s a competitive kick in the butt, it’s still motivating me to be more active and more healthy, during those Monday-Friday challenges, and I have my friends and my fitness tracker to thank for that.

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