from Susan Richman

[from Issue 83, Summer 2003, issue of PA HOMESCHOOLERS® newsletter]

I met my good friend, homeschooling mom Nancy Emerson, at the Spring Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Volleyball Tournament— and we immediately got ready for our big plans for the day: a long brisk walk about the Shippensburg University campus, where we could talk and visit and get some great exercise. And later in the day I had another long walk, full of great talking, with another volleyball mom, Maureen Matarazzo. Now usually at volleyball tournaments I have a wonderful time talking with all my friends who are also there (I’m new at being a ‘sports mom’ and have to remind myself to watch Hannah’s team every now and then...). The kids play hard for hours on end— and I sit for hours on end visiting with folks. This time was different. And I also kept peeking down at some little gizmo clipped on the waistband of my sweatpants. “Yes! I’m up to 8,000 now, and it’s just 2:00pm! Terrific!!” I even found myself taking a 10 minute brisk walk around the Turnpike restaurant on our way home later that night. What was up???

Something simple— my new pedometer.

My older sister— yep, the one who also told me about (see Issue 82)— also let me know about pedometers. My sister rarely got exercise before... but now with her new pedometer she is gaining more perspective on her activity level, and making little changes in her daily life that are adding up to new goals and new levels of activity. She is parking farther from the wonderful second hand book store she owns, she is walking more around her neighborhood, she even walked one Sunday afternoon the two miles or more on the St. Simons Island bikepath down to our mother’s home. If it was working for my sister— and after all, she was really right about FlyLady— I thought I’d try a pedometer too.

But the minute I put in my order for my new Walk4Life pedometer, I regretted it. I knew I’d never like it. I wouldn’t like having something clipped onto my waistband. I was sure it wouldn’t motivate me. I actually thought of cancelling my order and only didn’t because I couldn’t figure out how.

But then my pedometer arrived, and I actually figured out how to use it very easily. I clipped it on by my right hip, hit the ‘reset’ button, attached the safety strap so it couldn’t just fall off— and I literally have worn it faithfully every day now for at least 8 weeks. I absolutely love it.

I’ve never had such a positive and simple way to gauge my daily fitness level— but now I can just flip open my pedometer and check to see how I’m doing on my goal to reach a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. Some days it seems incredibly easy to reach... a half hour of aerobic dancing about while I do morning chores can sometimes rack up 4000 steps, and by evening I’m up to 12,000. And then there are the other days— when I get up a bit late, feel too tired or too pressed for time to exercise, don’t want to take a walk because it’s too cold, and spend inordinate hours infront of my computer screen. On those days— and I had one of them just yesterday— 9:00pm comes around and I’ve only logged a tad over 5000 steps. Not so good— and makes me realize how on the days when I really reach my goal (and this is every day in the last month, except for maybe two...), my pedometer has kept me aware and motivated me to get moving. 10,000 steps don’t just happen— my trustworthy pedometer just quietly and patiently reminds me of when the count is staying a bit too low.... and then I get things moving.

I start getting happy about needing to zip upstairs to change the laundry to the dryer, or to get some books from our stock in the attic, or to take something up to my daughter-in-law’s cottage on our farm. “That will give me some more steps!” I hear myself saying. I find myself planning walks in the wonderful city parks and neighborhoods of beautiful old homes when I’m in Pittsburgh, and I’m happy to walk several long blocks when before I’m might have driven the car instead. I’ve already earned my first Presidential Adult Active Lifestyle Award for 6 weeks of at least five days per week of 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of active exercise, and I’m well into my second award log now. And I’m starting to set goals of 12,000 steps a day, and more, too.

And kids are using pedometers too— this isn’t just something that aging Baby Boomer moms are doing. Walk4Life actually markets pedometers to schools as an alternative for physical education classes, with great results— especially for kids who might be overweight and unused to sports activities... and as we all know from news reports, the number of kids in this category has really grown over the last decade. Pedometers give these kids a first real look at their own activity levels— and with goal-setting they become more aware of when they really aren’t moving much in a day, and they are getting off their duff and racking up steps.... and much greater fitness and health.

I’ve become such a pedometer fan that I knew we needed to start carrying one in our catalog. We’ve chosen Walk4Life pedometers for several reasons. First, they have pedometers that come in really neat translucent colors, which just make them a bit more fun than your typical grey pedometer (and yes, you can see the inside working too!). And they’ve even printed PENNSYLVANIA HOME SCHOOLERS on the front of each one, so you can let the world know that you’re a proud homeschooler even while out walking. But that’s not all— these pedometers really work well, too! They have a flip-down case, so that the ‘reset’ button will never get accidentally knocked, zapping out your hard-earned steps. And even when you do hit ‘reset’ on purpose to start out a new day, there is a delay— you have to hold the ‘reset’ button for several seconds, again keeping you from accidentally deleting steps. The case also protects the large digital screen that counts your steps— no need to worry about getting it scratched or damaged. And every pedometer comes with a safety strap clip— and with some pairs of pants or skirts this really is crucial, as the pedometer can sometimes slip off by accident. But with the safety clip, no crashes to the floor, and no lost pedometers!

We also chose the model that just counts steps— no fancy and complicated settings to fool with to convert steps to miles, or count calories, or tell you the time. Just steps. Simple. My first pedometer actually was a ‘bells and whistles’ one that had ways for you to enter in your stride length so it could count ‘miles’ for you— and after the first day I never used this feature. After all, what I’m really counting is movement and not distance. I’m counting jumps when I jumprope, leaps up my stairs, and dancing about to a lively Horah while cleaning my kitchen. In phys ed classes in schools, the simple ‘steps only’ pedometers are what they use

So, I hope you are convinced— this is one simple tool that can really make a difference in your fitness and your health, both yours and your kids. And you’ll be ready to earn your Presidential Active Lifestyle Award also (see— and ready to take a walk with me at the next volleyball tournament in the fall!

See our Online Store for pricing and color choices. You also receive an instructional booklet with all the details on how to use your new pedometer.

For further info on pedometer use, and 10,000 step programs, see:

Or just do a search for “10000 steps pedometer” and you’ll find lots of great info!

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