Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Daily Walks

These days the only real exercise I get comes in the form of daily walks. When I took a work hiatus in 2016, it was one of the daily habits I promised myself I would pick up. During that time, I wanted to hit the often-recommended daily target of 10,000 steps per day. (Tangent: I found out while writing this post that this number may have no scientific basis after all)

Back then, all I had to track my steps was the dinky Samsung health app that came with my Galaxy phone. It was good enough, at least at first. At some point I switched to the Google Fit app. Neither app was super accurate though. I started with a modest target, and slowly ramped up to 10,000 steps per day, which I hit sometime near the end of 2016. (Frustratingly, I can’t find my daily records of my step counts from that year. I’m sure I had them in a spread sheet of some kind somewhere…)

One thing I learned on these daily walks is that I don’t like repetition. I had been trying to get into the daily habit even before my work hiatus, but because of limited time, I only went a short distance from home and just did laps around a nearby basketball court or subdivision. This however was hard for me to keep up because I found it terribly boring. During 2016, since I had more time, what I did was I would walk as far away from home as possible until I hit half my target, then I’m also forced to walk all the way back and meet my target. And because I dislike repetition, I seldom took the same route on succeeding days.

A pleasant side effect of this method is that I got a better layout of the geography near our house. I’ve lived here for more than a decade, but haven’t really explored the nearby areas that much because when you’re a working joe you don’t really have that much time for exploratory walks. And I would walk pretty far too, something like 8-10 km a day. I went down roads I never travelled, visited small malls I never knew of, walked all the way to a friend’s house, sometimes even walked through some sketchy-looking neighborhoods and so on. It’s also happened more than once that a friend I don’t see too often but lives nearby will say to me “Hey, I saw someone who looks like you walking around [my neighborhood]!”

Around mid-2017, my brother got me a Fitbit Charge 2, so I switched to that for my step counting. By this time, I had been maintaining the 10,000 step target for a while after I hit it, but when I started working regularly again I started to slip and often found myself only hitting 2 or 3 thousand a day. I’ve been trying to ramp it up again the past few months, but I find that usually 10,000 steps takes way too much time, in the neighborhood of 1.5-2 hours of walking, depending on my pace. Maybe I’ll still ramp up to that step count but I’ll take it a lot slower this time.

These days, my daily target is now a more manageable 6,000 to 8,000 steps a day, and I have more regular routes I follow. It somehow feels a bit more challenging to do this regularly in 2018 as the weather now seems much hotter than it used to be (that, or I had gotten used to being in an air-conditioned office again). I find my walks now more often happen after dusk, which makes them a bit more dangerous (these are Metro Manila streets after all), despite what a certain former DFA secretary might say. I just try to avoid wandering through shady streets these days.

Also, according to the fitbit logs, I’ve clocked in around 2.8 million steps since I got the fitbit, over around 500 days, more or less 5,500 steps per day. While it’s not ideal, I think it’s a lot more than I used to get regularly, and I am able to burst to 10,000 every so often. Hopefully I can get back to 10,000 regularly soonish.

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