For the last month I have been using the pedometer on my iPod: I saw a tweet (and I can’t remember now who tweeted this – sorry!) saying that the average person should walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.
“Easy” I thought. And so I switched on my pedometer.
And how wrong I have been.
On an “average” day I walk between 6 – 7k. I always hit the magic 10k on my day off (Wednesdays): I do the school-walk twice on that day (5k steps) take the 2yo to Baby Gym, and the Tesco shop. I honestly think it’s the Tesco shop that makes the difference; during Baby Gym I usually stand around chatting to other mums whilst I watch my little boy throw himself around the assault course.
On the worst (or lowest) day last month I walked just over 3,000 steps. It was a day when I was delivering stand-up training: I walked the 10 minutes (down-hill) from the Hotel to the Hospital, delivered 8 hours of training, took a taxi to the station, sat on a train for a few hours, and a second taxi back to my house at the other end.
So, I have started to think about how I can increase the number of steps I walk during a normal working day. I don’t have a set routine due to the nature of my work, but luckily most days I get to do at least one walk to school (2,500 steps).
But with all the conflicting priorities in my life, I’m not sure I can find a way to walk any more than I currently do.
And this had led me to think about the approach Employers take towards their employees who are trying to lead a healthier life. There’s increasing evidence that staff who lead healthy lives are more productive. And as a result, it’s not uncommon nowadays to find all types of organisations promoting their highly structured wellbeing agenda.
A number of NHS organisations have promoted the use of pedometers. The Global Corporate Challenge is one example, and I personally tried to implement Fitbug after seeing the “buzz” it created at another.
In spite of this, I’ve been left with a feeling that there’s a two-tiered approach to Wellbeing: managers will give their full support of individuals trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle if it comes under a corporate initiative. But there appears to be less support for the lone employee within an organisation trying to find a way to live a healthier lifestyle.
If I was an individual in an organisation, could I approach my line-manager to request a flexible working pattern that would enable me to achieve 10,000 steps a day? Or would I be expected to find a way in my private life to achieve this daily goal – a way that would not impinge on my workplace?
More importantly, how flexible are (or should?) organisations be in pursuit of wellbeing?
So I end the week thinking about how I can increase the number of steps I take every day (except Wednesdays) and feeling lucky that I am my own boss.