21289 Steps

21289 steps….the average of the number of steps I took yesterday as shown by my Fitbit, an app that came with my iPhone, and an app I downloaded later.  Three ways to count steps!!! That does not include the Runtastic app that analyzes distance, time, pace, average pace, and a dozen other fitness markers. Having four ways to “anal-ize” my steps might be excessive.  I might be more obsessive or anal retentive than I credit myself.  Or maybe, I don’t trust my Fitbit. 

Taking the time to average my number of steps from my three tracking apps might be a symptom of my peculiar brand of insanity.  Even my insanity has insanities.  Taking 21289 steps might be excessive, period.  Some of my steps were not easy.  The morning after my knees are decrying my brutality…and stupidity.  Where did I put my Tylenol?

21289 steps are over twice the recommended number of steps the fitness gods say should be our fitness goal. The fitness “gold” standard, ten thousand steps accompanied by gothic organ music. 

One of the more inquisitive voices in my head asked, “Why is it ten thousand steps…why not 9999 steps or 10001 steps?  Why can’t we be fit eating a slab of bacon?”  The call to wander down a pig trail was strong.  “Indeed, why are ten thousand steps the fitness gold standard?”

“Turns out, it is not based on anything scientific!”…or should I say, it did not start out that way.  Ten thousand steps was nothing more than a marketing ploy.

“There doesn’t appear to be any scientific basis for the idea that 10,000 steps should be everyone’s daily fitness goal”, according to I-Min Lee, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. I quoted Ms. Lee but understand, there are other studies that parrot her.

Ten Thousand steps turns out to be a marketing strategy, propaganda?  Lie?  Shades of the parental phrase I remember, “drink your milk so you’ll have strong bones.” That propaganda certainly sold more milk. No really.  Calcium and Vitamin D are good for you but do not guarantee strong bones.  While we are exploding myths, “Superman couldn’t have turned coal into a diamond either.” What?

In the early 1960s, a Japanese company introduced their pedometer with the interesting name, manpo-kei.  Interesting?  Hell, I can’t even pronounce it.  I can however translate it, “10,000-step meter.” “man” stands for 10,000, “po” for step and “kei” for gauge. “Well, ain’t that the catfish in the trap?” (Southern idiom for surprise)

Okay, before you go out and trash your pedometers and fitness trackers and trade them for a bacon wrapped cheeseburger, do not.  Studies made since the 1960s bear out the science behind ten thousand steps…not as a “gold” standard, but a worthy and attainable goal.

Without boring you anymore than usual, in a 2010 “step” study, it was found, on an average the Japanese walk 7,168 per day and the Swiss at 9,650 per day.  A 2004 study showed Amish men “pickin’ ‘em up” at an average of 18,425 steps a day.  Wow, I outwalked an Amish man yesterday.  All three of these samples are healthier as an overall population than your average American.  And yes, there are other studies from other places and demographics that agree with this.

In the same 2010 study, Americans averaged less than five thousand steps per day, and Americans are getting fatter, and dying sooner than most “advanced” nations.  I know, our diet doesn’t help either.  Bacon, bacon, bacon!!!!  I admit I would rather be sedentary with a BLT in my mouth that going out in the wee morning hours or rain and hoofing it for three or four miles. I do not walk in the rain if I can help it.  There are limits to my obsession.

My 2006 heart attack changed my outlook but not my desires.  There is nothing more sensual than disrobing a wax paper wrapped bacon cheeseburger on a soft sesame seed bun.  The tomato and onion slices, along with lettuce peeking seductively out from the edges of the bun. Tantalizingly and teasingly licking the juices running down my fingers.  Fried onion rings looking on quietly awaiting the orgy. “Was it good for you,” I asked my taste buds…it was until I felt the tightening in my chest.  It was not desire and there was no passionate release…until the four stints were “surfed” into my blocked arteries.   

Ten thousand steps became my daily obsession, but my neurotic fascination with the number did not begin that way.  My first post heart attack walk was one third of a mile, seven or eight hundred steps at best.  My legs felt like over cooked spaghetti, my perspiration resembled Niagara Falls after a hurricane, my respiration sounded like an overworked steam locomotive.  My bride had to walk back and bring the car to get me back home.  She wondered out loud, “Should I take you to the emergency room or the funeral home?”  “Thanks hon, just get me in the house and let me die in peace.”

I didn’t die and have come a long way since that day.  My screaming knees do not let me run any longer, my dreams of marathons are mute, but I walk twenty to twenty-five miles a week and average ten thousand steps six out of seven days.  Most days Tylenol takes the edge off my efforts and I am marginally productive. 

Whether ten thousand steps was based upon science originally or not does not really matter.  Get up and out, move, stay healthy.  Move, move, move not bacon, bacon, bacon!

***

Don Miller writes on various subjects and has recently released his second “Drunken Irishman Saloon” tale. It can be purchased or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Long+ride+to+paradise+Don+Miller&ref=nb_sb_noss

Long Ride to Paradise: Tales of the Drunken Irishman Saloon

To access his authors page go to https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0podOBekn70hQc7jZnq2H5vZVw-3P7aKLsRI1slX-lVK-vWml-uR2KYJU

Aging Gracelessly Redux…. 

 

Oh,  I’m feelin’ it this mornin’, the morning after my weekly visit with Hawk.  Five miles on the Swamp Rabbit, solving all the world’s problems before enjoying an after-walk cup of coffee at the Tree House.  That’s just in case it’s been a problematic week and we need more time to solve those problems.  Lately, they’ve all been problematic, and no one listens to us anyway…well, they listen to us at the Tree House and that’s one of the reasons we keep going.  They think we are the bee’s knees.

Yeah, I’m feelin’ it as in feeling old, very old.

I do about twenty-five miles of walking during the week hoping to put distance between myself and the ominous figure caring the old-fashioned scythe.  Despite my best efforts, the distance between us is shortening.  As Hawk continues to tell me, “We ain’t gettin’ out of this alive.”  No, but I’m going out kicking and screaming…just like he is.  I want to be a burden on my child and grandchildren for a long time.

Hawkday Friday is the only day of the week I set an alarm and it throws my whole system out of whack.  Aging creates creatures of habit, I guess.  I am so out of sorts waiting for the Big Ben to go off.  “Did I remember to wind it?” Am I the only guy who must get up two hours ahead of time to make sure all systems “are a go?”  Friday mornings my “systems” always send out messages.  “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” 

I take my wife a cup of coffee at five-thirty because she is as crazy as I am and invariably, she mutters, “I don’t know why in the “firetruck” y’all can’t walk at a decent hour.”  I don’t know either except that it is easier to deal with my own disfunction than Hawk’s.  “And besides, you went to high school with him and learned similar dysfunctions.” He wants to walk at six to keep away from the sun and just because. I want to walk at seven-thirty to get into the sun and just because.  Opposites do attract.

So, I’m up at three-thirty and feeling like a dead man.  I had trouble falling asleep.  Late at one end of the day, early at the other makes for a grumbly old guy.  I could blame Hawk’s goofiness but to be honest, it’s just as much mine.  “How long before the alarm goes off?”

Who lays awake worrying about lying awake?  I do, that’s who.  When my bladder drives me out of bed in the middle of the night I worry about when the alarm is going off.  “Don’t look at your watch, you’ll only worry about going back to sleep.  Don’t look I said.  You’re a dumbass, you looked.  Jeez, I gotta get up in an hour.”  I might as well get up now, all I’m going to do is worry about having to get up.  Jeez, forty-five minutes, thirty minutes, etc. and finally I fall back to sleep…thirty seconds before the alarm goes off.

I feel as though I have been beaten.  My aging body has become an alien thing…as alien as Ripley’s Alien Queen and just as nasty at times.  An ever-changing sack of tiny aches and pains, a “thousand little paper cuts” kind of agony.  Nothing major, just my sagging bag of bones letting me know what I did yesterday, maybe the day before, maybe the hit I took in a football game fifty years ago.

Once I jumped out of bed in anticipation of the day to come, now I ease-out, one toe at a time, hoping I don’t pull something before my feet hit the floor.

Sagging bag of bones…. Did you know besides your hair and nails, your nose and ears are the only body parts that continue to grow as you age?  I don’t mean stretch as in sag…that’s kind of funny looking.  It would be funnier if it was someone else. Damn you gravity.

I mean body parts that actually continue to increase in size.  God must have a twisted sense of humor.  If I live long enough, I’m gonna look like a caricature of Ross Perot…according to the mirror, I already do.  A truly loving God would have given me hope in another area and a reason to get rid of my big ole four by four.

Every morning I wake up as the dark-headed, dark bearded young man of forty years ago.  I walk into the bathroom and yell in my head, “Don’t look in the mirror.  Don’t do it!  Boo, you looked.”  The vision in my head is a mirage, replaced by the image in the harsh light of the mirror.  An old guy with a bigger nose and ears than last night, with less hair and more wrinkles turning into crevasses.

Still, as Hawk and I discussed, we are better off than a lot of our peers.  We’re still mobile, hostile, agile…and delusional.  Youth is a state of mind and we are still in diapers…or are heading back to diapers?  We still have a childlike wonder about the world.  We still wonder what we are going to do when we grow up.

I’m a gluten for punishment and out of habit I walk again this morning.  I walk alone with my earbuds until I meet a pretty blond runner, her long ponytail bouncing, blue eyes twinkling.  For a moment I remember being thirty.  As I continue my walk, we pass each other three more times.

Finally, I ask, “How far are you going today?”

A big smile followed, “I’m doing eleven.”

I shook my head and returned her smile, “I remember those days, long runs on Saturdays.”

“How far are you walking?”

“Near five.”  She smiled, gave me a thumbs up and shouted “Great job” before continuing on her way.

My heart melted a bit and I thought, “You know your knees feel pretty good.  Maybe a little running next week. Maybe if I’m careful I can do a marathon by the time I grow up.”  I don’t know, I’m sure a nap will cure those thoughts.

For the clarification of those who don’t live in the area:

The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a fitness trail that runs from above Travelers Rest, SC through Greenville, SC.  It was named after and follows the route of a short spur railway once called The Swamp Rabbit.

The Tree House is the Tree House Cafe and Studio, which sits next to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Travelers Rest.  Great coffee, sandwiches, great service, and great company.

Don Miller writes on various subjects, non-fictional and fictional, and can be found at  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM.

Lena Christenson, Don Miller’s feminine pen, has released a new book, Dark Tempest, a suspenseful romance with a hint of the erotic.  Lena can found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19

The image, Old Man Loves Smoking Cigars, is by Greg Cartmell and may be purchased at https://gregcartmell.com/product/old-man-loves-smoking-cigars/