What happens when you count every step to become fitter?

There is a revolution happening in my husband’s office and its repercussions can be seen 25 km away, in my home.

I suddenly notice the man, hitherto infamous for always being on the bed with a book, striding around the house, running errands, helping with the chores and walking the little girl to school. Not only that, he has also abandoned the lift and uses only the stairs to climb up all nine floors — even after a long day at work. All thanks to a device stuck to his waist 24x7.

  Inspired by its counterparts in the West, and concerned about the wellness of the workforce, my husband’s organisation, particularly his team, has come up with an initiative that encourages people to walk – and be rewarded for it.

 Promoting wellness at the workplace through walking might be a relatively new concept in India but has strongly established its merits in the west — a healthy workforce happens to be just one of them. The agent of change is a small piece of plastic called the pedometer; this little device works on the principal of motion and keeps a count of every step you take. It motivates you to walk more each day, thereby improving your fitness levels — slowly but steadily. For those who don’t want the device, there are various apps that serve the same purpose.

 To ensure more and more people join the programme, the HR leadership team — a team my husband happens to be a part of — is not only talking the talk, but also walking the talk, quite literally. They walk, jog, run, climb the stairs and compete with each other to get a respectable ‘step count’ and share it with their teams. Ten thousand steps a day is the minimum respectable figure, I am told.

 And so for the past few weeks, the pedometer has become husband’s life centre (I often notice him taking pictures of the reading late at night and sharing it with his colleagues). But he is not the only one, or so he claims. According to him, every conversation at work begins and ends with a discussion on the latest figures and plans to improve them.

 While the water cooler discussions at work might be about the long-term goals and about sustenance of the plan, the coffee table conversations at home are about personal achievements and misses. The number of floors he climbed, the number of steps he covered, how much more could he have done and how his team members are doing.

 That’s not all, every morning my drawing room transforms into a boardroom hosting serious brainstorming sessions about performance improvement. Opinions are sought on what he can do to increase his step count and what it will take for him to fare better than his dog-owner friends who cover five thousand steps by walking the dog alone?

Parking the car a level below; walking to the gym rather than cycling; taking the girls down to play are some mundane ideas that keep coming up, but to outdo his dog-owner colleagues he needs a revolutionary plan. I only hope the plan is not to get a dog home.

Keywords: fitnesspedometer