Posted on July 24th, 2012 by Beth
If you’re sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to hear how my life has changed since I started wearing a talking pedometer, I have one question for you: what the heck are you doing sitting down? Get up and take a walk. Or, at least, pace!
Some background here: in late June the folks here at Easter Seals Headquarters started a six-week “Walk For U, Go The Extra Mile” challenge as part of our wellness program. Every employee received a free pedometer to keep track of progress for six weeks, and those of us who meet the daily goal of 7,000 steps per day — a distance of 3.5 miles — throughout the entire six weeks will be entered into a drawing to win a six-month fitness club membership.
The human resources department here realized I wouldn’t be able to read the number of steps I’d taken each day on my own, so they ordered a special talking pedometer for me that said my results out loud.
A post on the New York Times Well blog reported that one mile of walking covers about 2,000 steps, and Americans, on average, take 5,117 steps a day. My seeing Eye dog Whitney and I were on our way to prove my theory that blind people who use guide dogs — especially those of us who live in big cities — must walk more than the average person does.
The list of requirements for people applying to train with a Seeing Eye dog says candidates need to be able to walk one or two miles a day: “Applicant must be between the ages of 16 and 75, motivated and emotionally stable, capable of walking one to two miles a day, and able to receive and implement instruction.”
In a post I published here on the Easter Seals blog in June about all this, I explained that when you live in a city you can’t simply open a sliding glass patio door to let your guide dog out. I take Whitney down the street, around the corner and to her favorite tree at least four times a day. That’s 1,000 steps per trip. My talking pedometer counted out 12,157 steps the day I walked to the drug store to pick up prescriptions, and that included a safety shortcut I take each way to cross State Street. Whitney and I walk down the subway stairs on one side, pad along under State Street and then ascend the stairs on the other side.
The first two weeks of our experiment included one week of 100-degree temperatures in Chicago, and even in that hot weather Whitney and I averaged 9,871 steps a day. My steps per day increased when temperatures cooled down the second week.
Just when I’d started planning which new equipment Whitney and I would try out when we won the free six-month fitness club membership at the end of our “Walk For U, Go The Extra Mile” challenge, I pressed the button to hear the number of steps I’d taken so far that day, and … nothing. My talking pedometer stopped talking. I shook the thing and pressed the button. Nothing. I turned it upside-down and rightside-up again. Nothing. I stuck it in a bag of rice for a day. Nothing.
Human resources offered to buy me a new talking pedometer, but I figured I’d already proven my theory about blind people. Those of us who live with guide dogs — especially those of us who live in big cities — do walk more than the average American does. And now, I have a new theory: blind people who use guide dogs — especially those of us who live in big cities — walk so many steps that a talking pedometer can’t keep up with us.