How old do you have to be to have a step counter?

Christopher asked me this question on Friday night. He’s been hearing Jim and I talk a lot about our steps over the last few weeks. I got a Fitbit Zip at the end of January, and Jim got one at the end of April. We both have desk jobs, so we were looking for some motivation to move more. It’s definitely working, but when Christopher asks questions like that it makes me wonder whether it’s a good or a bad thing that he’s noticing.

One day last week when it was cold and windy, Christopher wanted to get the mail after we got home from daycare. I had my hands loaded with stuff, so I said I’d wait in the driveway while he went to the mailbox (which is across the court from our house). It was cold! I wasn’t dressed for the weather because it’s supposed to be spring. I had just worked out in my head that I was being lazy and that I should go with him because it would be more exercise when he said, “You’ll get more steps.” in a convincing tone. Fine. I put down the stuff I was carrying and went with him to the mailbox.

Kids notice everything! Even when we don’t think they’re watching, they are. They’re trying to figure out how to world works, what the rules are, how they fit in. I guess the message we’re sending by counting our steps is that we want to get more exercise. We want to be healthy. We already talk to him about eating healthy food – getting enough protein and not eating too much sugar. So I guess this isn’t much different. It just feels weird.

The whole idea of getting more steps has been a bit of a struggle for me. I have always taken the stairs at work, so to get more steps in my regular day I find that I take the long way from my desk to a meeting room, or I get up and walk around more often. As someone who values efficiency, it’s hard to justify those extra steps because they take time.

Fitbit has a nice feature where you can connect with friends and challenge each other to a “Daily Showdown” (whoever gets the most steps in one day wins), a “Goal Day” (everyone who meets their daily goal wins), the “Weekend Warrior” (whoever gets the most steps for Saturday and Sunday wins), or the “Workweek Hustle” (whoever gets the most steps Monday through Friday wins). I enjoy these challenges because sometimes I need external accountability to motivate myself.

This weekend I challenge all of my Fitbit friends to the “Weekend Warrior”. It worked for me. I ran 2 miles on Saturday morning at the YMCA, and I exceeded my 10,000 steps goal for both Saturday and Sunday. I got there Sunday night by walking for 45 minutes on the treadmill while watching Grey’s Anatomy. Without that challenge, I might have just sat and read my book last night.

My husband, Jim, enjoys the competition aspect of the challenges. He walked over 4 miles while we were at the Y on Saturday. Then he mowed the lawn and went grocery shopping, getting over 20,000 steps on Saturday. Sunday he could have taken it easy, but he saw that our sister-in-law was catching up, so he went for a 2 hour walk on Sunday afternoon and racked up well over 10,000 steps to ensure that he won the challenge. He blew us all away with 38,000 steps for the weekend.

I think competition is part of the reason Christopher is interested in having his own Fitbit. He knows that he would get more steps than us everyday, and he has that competitive streak as well. Part of me is curious to know how many steps he gets each day, but I can’t sacrifice my own step count to let him use my Fitbit for a day. Ha.

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