I was recently at a dinner gathering with some friends. The host, a co-worker who lives with his girlfriend are usually up on the latest ... everything. They stopped gluten before it became a national pandemic, they brought a hybrid before The Inconvenient Truth was released and they were the first to find a sub-prime mortgage and lose their house before the rest of the country. Still, they were both doing well and to be honest, I have always felt a stinging envy because they were financially much better off than I and able to do things like eat at nice restaurants and go on vacations. During our conversation, I couldn't help but notice his girlfriend would walk with a sense of strident purpose to and from the kitchen with the accentuated gait of a Lipizzaner Stallion. "What's up with the walk?" I asked employing my usual lack of temerity not considering she may have been the victim of a subdural hematoma stroke. She replied with the surety of someone explaining basic math, "I need to get my 10,000 steps in today and I'm only at seven thousand."
She went on to explain that our bodies should walk an average of 10,000 steps every day, or roughly 2 miles, in order to maintain a regular metabolism. And that, because of the sedentary nature of her work, walking that much was difficult. To counter this problem she purchased a digital counter to indicate how many steps she walked. I looked at my friend (her boyfriend) with a glare that simply inquired into the nature of her sanity. He responded by pulling out his own digital counter and laying it down on the table with the assurance of someone who was at a poker game turning over a royal straight flush. It read 11,632. I guess that's why he was able to enjoy the act of sitting down and avoid participating in this in-home parade of the overly kinetic. I suddenly imagined them at 11:00 at night realizing they needed another thousand steps, desperately and silently marching around their apartment like two lunatics; walking from one room to another like flies looking for a window. My natural curiosity arose and I asked what I thought was an obvious question: "So you're just going to walk around the apartment like a Roomba until you reach your goal?" She looked at me with a stare that questioned the nature of our very friendship and hissing a venomous "Yesss."
Now, I do appreciate the fact that people want to stay in shape and I encourage most Americans, who are more obese than at any time in our recorded history, to take a walk now and then and eat a salad. But when you walk ten miles a day as an unavoidable facet of your job, I feel as though I'm watching someone go to a country with food scarcity so they can diet more effectively. I asked her why she didn't join a gym and walk on a treadmill or do something crazy like go for a walk through the park. You know, find an added benefit to her 10,000 step goal. She looked at me as though I had just thrown up on her rug. "Who has time to go for a walk?" I thought that while I was in no way a wealthy person, how lucky I was not to have to multi-task the act of walking.