Getting My Steps In

13 Feb Getting My Steps In

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 13.2.23


I like to walk to the shops on Mondays because that’s when the gelato place is shut. A walk plus a gelato is less efficacious, by my calculations, than just a walk. Though still better than a gelato sans walk, of course.

But if the walk is the point then taking it on a Monday when there is no risk of gelato seems wise. I have willpower, I just see no reason to test it unnecessarily. Certainly not when they’ve put the pistachio and the salted caramel right there at the front of the cabinet.

“Getting my steps in” is how we talk about it now, this conscious moving around to reach a daily target we’ve set ourselves.

My phone has been quietly keeping track of how many steps and flights of stairs I’ve been taking for years, even before I knew what it was up to. Now it delivers unasked for statistics about my current activities and how they compare to last week, last month, and even last year.

And yes, it is creepy that this app on my phone has been gathering data on me since 2016, but it’s also fascinating to have all that information available in an orange bar graph. I can swipe through and spot the holidays at Disneyland (sudden columns tall as skyscrapers) and lockdowns (rows of tiny boxes) and the year I wrote a book and barely moved.

There was a time when I didn’t need to think about getting my steps in. This was long ago in an era when we didn’t carry water bottles because we didn’t know we were thirsty, or that being thirsty between locations was bad.

Instead of “getting my steps in”, I just “walked to things” – school, or university, or a job. In my first year in Wellington I lived on one side of the city and studied on the other, and public transport involved two bus routes that didn’t quite mesh so on days with less than torrential rain or gale force winds, it seemed easier to walk.

I reminisced about this when I was back there last month, staying down one end of the city and working up the other, cheerfully ambling along the waterfront several times a day. (The Capital, unlike my home city, has been having A Summer, which is both enviable and weird.)

Those earlier years of walking were curbed by work commutes, and taxiing kids, and fetching (and fetching for) aging parents. And generally squeezing so many things into each day that the only viable option for getting from A to B was the fast one, even for short trips – like a hasty nip to the shops.

Now I’m replacing as many of those drives as I can with a walk, which leads to “a think”, and possibly also an admission that this tedious nonsense about exercise and how it makes you feel good turns out to be – snore – quite correct. Endorphins and whatnot, who knew? I mean, everyone, including earlier versions of me, but I’m joining the party once more.

Even when you must take the car, this pro-walking ethos takes the anxiety out of finding a car park. Two blocks away? That’ll look good on my bar graph.

There is another app on my phone that tells me when I’ve done enough exercise for a treat. I downloaded that app on purpose. Turns out, two walks to the shops almost equals one gelato.

I love Tuesdays.