How This Challenge Came About 

I hate working out. But I love food, so you can see the problem. I decided I wanted to try a "fitness challenge" and write about it, but I am also incredibly busy and fairly lazy so I wanted something I knew I could do with just a little extra effort. This is how the 10000 steps challenge came about. 

A while back, when FitBit was huge, everybody was trying to get in their 10000 steps a day, or roughly five miles — an admirable goal. I remember thinking that didn't sound too hard, but then I looked at my average step count and it was about 7000. I already thought that I was walking so much (I live in West Campus and have to walk to class), but alas, I was 3000 steps away from the most basic goal on FitBit. 

That's how I decided on my challenge to get 10000 steps in a day for the entire month of April. How did it go? Read on, but spoiler alert — I didn't walk 10000 steps a day every single day. 

How I Measured

tea, juice, coffee, beer, water
Hayden Pigott

I wanted to make this challenge feasible for anyone to do, so I didn't buy any special equipment and just used the "Health" app that comes pre-downloaded on an iPhone (Android users out there can download a basic pedometer app). I carried my phone in my hand while I walked, swinging it back and forth. I'm a member of a spirit organization on campus, so I asked some of my sisters to do the challenge with me as well. Only one of us got to 300000 steps (the combined total of 10000 steps for 30 days). Disclaimer: it wasn't me.

Week One

pizza, coffee, beer
Hayden Pigott

April 1st, the first day, was very easy because I had to walk to the LBJ Library early in the morning and had a ton of activities from then on. By the second day, however, I felt like I had already hit a wall. I lead a really hectic school life, so my Sunday mornings/early afternoons are spent relaxing. However, when you are trying to reach 10000 steps, it isn't easy to relax.

A recurring theme for this entire challenge was that I would get to about 6000 steps a day, and would end up walking up and down my apartment while studying to get the other 4000. April 3rd was the first day I didn't reach my goal. I got to 8569 before we reached midnight; this was an average school day for me so I quickly realized I was going to have to change my routine a little.

April 4th was the second day I didn't get all 10000 steps. I was extremely frustrated because I walked from my office to the communication school, 19 streets away. I got over 10000 steps the rest of the week, but it was by going out of my way to walk to places I normally wouldn't walk to, such as to and from the baseball stadium, to dinner, and to a few other activities. 

Week Two

pizza, coffee, beer
Hayden Pigott

This week started off amazing. I got over 14000 steps because I walked to a photo shoot downtown, which was long but not unpleasant. Then I had an intense volunteering activity at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center that afternoon, so it wasn't surprising that I reached 14000.

One day I only got to 9208 steps and was really upset with myself. As each day passed, I noticed that if I didn't get to 10000 steps I would kind of beat myself up about it, because I knew I could have done it. This is something I never anticipated happening. On April 14th, Good Friday, I only reached 6000 steps. This was crushing, but I also knew it was coming as I didn't have to go in for work so I ended up lying in bed until 5pm. It was amazing to relax, but also so, so, so bad for this challenge. 

Week Three

Hayden Pigott

This week, I got over 10000 steps each day except for the last. It's strange how proud I felt when I finally got over that 10000-step mark. I have never done a fitness challenge before so maybe it's common to feel this sense of pride in what you have accomplished workout-wise, but it is a new sensation for me.

I also felt so much relief when I reached the 10000 mark because it meant I could stop walking everywhere. I was also really tired of finding ways to walk everywhere. For example, I would go study off-campus with somebody, and instead of asking them to drop me off at my apartment, I would have them drive to their apartment and walk back to my place from there. Some days I would get the 10000 steps while not even thinking about it, while other days it would seem as though nothing I was doing was getting closer to my goal. 

Week Four

pizza, beer
Hayden Pigott

This week was the last week before the final week of class, when I had my last round of midterms. So I spent a TON of my time studying, and let me tell you — you don't really move when you are studying. You sit and ingest a ton of information. So out of the last nine days, there were five days that I didn't make it to 10000 steps.

I was still walking 7000-9000 steps a day, so it wasn't like I wasn't moving, but it still felt bad. On the last day of the challenge I achieved 10051 steps and was happy to end with a bang. But I was simultaneously disappointed in myself that the last week was as bad as it was. However, I did pass maybe it was worth it?

I will say, I got used to walking home from work and attempting to make myself walk everywhere by the last week of this challenge. I ended the challenge with an accumulated 292116 steps. And I am mad about it. Seriously — I was only 7884 steps away from making the 300000 total steps. I'm bitter as I write this because I know I could have done it if I put in a little extra effort, but stuff happens.

The Takeaways 

Now it's time to discuss if you should do this. And if I am being honest, you should. Throughout this challenge I realized how lazy my friends and I were. I had no idea how much we complained about walking until I started walking every day. 

I also think my sleeping improved as a result. This could be completely unrelated, but I definitely slept better in the month of April. It could also have been all the fresh air I was getting. Either way, I was thankful for it. 

I didn't notice any weight loss, but I also didn't go into this challenge to lose weight. However, if you do want to do this challenge for that reason, I suggest you do actual walking workouts, such as walking for 30 minutes really quickly to make sure your heart rate goes up. A leisurely walk probably won't burn as many calories. 

Another issue I had was forgetting to carry my phone in my hand so it would naturally swing back and forth while I walk. I'm super guilty of looking at my phone while walking to class and guess what — those steps aren't recorded if you use the iPhone the way I did. Because of this, I invested in some podcasts to get me through some of my longer walks (shout-out to "99% Invisible" and "Shutdown Fullcast" for seeing me through). Also, if you do decide to do the challenge, make sure to glue your hand to your phone so you don't end up leaving it at your desk when you use the bathroom — those are valuable steps I lost out on! If you have an Apple Watch, FitBit or Pedometer you won't have these issues. 

So in the end, I say go for it. I really enjoyed this challenge and loved the fact that it put me out of my comfort zone and made me realize that my normal routines aren't good enough. Although I am thrilled not to have to worry about making 10000 steps per day anymore, I am now more inclined to work toward that goal every day.