I imagine my loyal readers are anxious to hear how my pedometer regimen is going, if only so they too can say, “Why do I have to exercise?  I already walk!” 

I imagine a lot of things out on my walks.  There’s not much else to do. 

A short while ago, I wrote about how I was getting myself a pedometer, because I needed a new device to stare at as I’m walking all the time.  According to basically everything I’ve read, I’m supposed to get in 10,000 steps every day, which is a lot of steps.  Well, actually, that depends.  Because when I walk to my regular shul, which is about six minutes away, I’m like, “That’s a thousand steps!  I just have to walk to shul and home five times a day!”  Which is great if I’m Muslim, but I’m not.  Plus I usually daven Mincha and Maariv together, so that’s only twice a day.  So I have to add other outings.  But then when I walk around a store for a full half hour, it’s like, “Okay, how was that only 500 steps?”  And I have to tell you – I’ve been shopping pretty inefficiently; forgetting things, backtracking through the store, trying to find things myself… So how is this possible that my number is so low?  Is it just measuring distance covered?  And if my numbers are so low, then why on earth do I come home from every store exhausted? 

In fact, before I got a pedometer, I didn’t understand how I did so few steps every day, because I do housework – am I not taking steps while I do that?  Though now that I started carrying around a pedometer that tells me how many steps I’m taking, it turns out that most of my chores are done standing still, apparently. 

Maybe I should wear it on my arm.

And yes, this is a more advanced device into which, before I started the first day, I had to program in my weight so it could calculate how many calories I generally burn by walking.  Because apparently, the heavier you are, the more calories you burn with each step.  People make fun of you because when you walk up a hill, they have to hear you fighting for your life, but you’re doing way more exercise than they are, with their light little bodies.  You’re actively losing weight here.  What are they doing? 

Basically, when it comes to trying to lose weight by walking, the bigger you are the more weight you lose.  So why on earth am I trying to lose weight, again?  So that I’ll lose less weight by doing the same amount of exercise?  That’s an efficient use of my time.

And to help the device calculate distance, I also had to program in my gait, which I don’t know how to measure my own gait short of stepping on an ink pad and determining the distance between footprints.  Which is definitely worth the effort, since the mileage count is not accurate anyway.

Nor can the calorie-burning count possibly be accurate, because the pedometer has no idea what I’m carrying.  It never assumes I’m carrying anything.  For instance, there was a day that I had to take four heavy air conditioners off a very high shelf in the garage, carry them down a stepladder and up the stairs of my house, and install them in windows in four separate rooms – in the heat in a non-air-conditioned house.  I worked up a huge sweat – greater than I had in all the other steps I’d taken that day – and then afterwards I said, “Whew!  Let’s see how many steps I took!”  And it said, “You took 500 steps!”  And I said, “Who asked you?  You don’t know.”

There’s also no way this thing knows whether I’m walking uphill or downhill. 

On the other hand, the very concept of a pedometer feels like cheating, because who says walking is even an exercise?  The pedometer people?  The pedometer says I’m burning calories, but it could just be making it up, you know?  Just from the fact that I could totally forget about the pedometer, and then halfway through the day I could come across it and say, “Hey!  I’ve been exercising all day by accident!”  You can’t say that about any other exercise.  Like you check your pocket at the end of the day, and it turns out you already did 60 pushups, and you didn’t even realize! 

“How do you like that?!” 

But the pedometer people say it is.  Though I think it’s like a cult.  Because people who do a lot of walking are constantly asking you to join them. 

“Can we walk?” 

“I’m driving.” 

“No, but we can both walk!” 

“Or I can give you a ride.  Stop trying to convert me.” 

I’m also not sure if I’m supposed to walk ten thousand steps, or ten thousand steps more than I normally would walk.  So the first couple of days after I got the pedometer, I didn’t do any extra walking.  You call it procrastination, but I called it science.  My excuse was that I was trying to get a baseline of what I normally do.  Anyway, my baseline was that on most days I walk about 3,000 steps.  I’m a third of the way there!  I just have to mosey around my house three times as much!  Cleaning, mostly.  I just need three times as much mess to clean!  Or a much narrower broom.  Or a bigger house.

One thing I had to figure out, though, was the midnight issue.  Basically, my pedometer has this cool feature wherein all the numbers reset to zero at midnight.  I don’t go to bed by midnight!  Dragging myself up to bed is apparently part of the next day. 

I get why it does that.  Because with my old pedometer – which my wife got me years ago – if there was a day that I didn’t make 10,000 steps, I just wouldn’t zero it, and then the next day I would say to my wife, “See?  Ten thousand!”  Or sometimes a day later.  So now basically every pedometer goes back to zero every night so you don’t cheat yourself.   

But the issue is that it does so at midnight.  You can’t adjust what time it does this.  That’s the one thing you can’t set.  Otherwise you’ll just keep moving the endpoint.  And midnight is not great.  I’ve just sat back down to work after the kids have settled down for the evening, and then I look and say, “Oh no! I have five minutes to get a thousand steps in!” and I take off down the block at 11:55 p.m. in the dark.  And running doesn’t get you more steps.  It just gets you more distance, which it doesn’t calculate anyway, because the distance is based on steps.  So no running.  You have to walk fast with a purpose, like someone who’s trying to pass the people in front of him on the sidewalk without breaking into a run for a minute and making them feel like he’s running just to get around them. 

Way to discourage running, pedometer people.

And you can say, “Who cares?  Do the extra steps before bed, and it will count for the next day!”  But I don’t know how many steps I need for the next day.  Right now it’s says I’ve taken 100; should I just do the rest and then I don’t have to get out of my chair at all tomorrow? 

But I’ve slowly been figuring things out.  (Get it?  Slowly.) 

Here are the tips, in case you need them:

- For one thing, I’ve been walking to a shul that’s farther away.  That way, I get more points.  It’s called schar halicha. 

- 3 steps back, 3 steps forward.  Every little thing counts.  Unfortunately, my pedometer doesn’t count anything less than nine steps because it assumes that you “accidentally” just dropped your pedometer across the room.  So I have to add in some shukkeling.  Literally, this whole experience is making me a better Yid.

- Case in point, ever since I got a pedometer, I’ve been dancing more at simchas.  And also not complaining about that dance where you’re just walking in a circle forever, because, “Hey, I’m walking!”  And you get more steps in the outer circle.  The inner circles are a lot of picking your feet up and putting them down but not actually moving anywhere.  Point is, I thought I wouldn’t get my steps in this evening because I had a simcha, but I forgot about the dancing!  I usually walk to Mincha-Maariv, and tonight it’s in the hall’s halls, but hey, can I walk down the aisle with you guys?

- I’m very religious about bringing the pedometer everywhere.  If I wake up in middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I grab the pedometer out of my pants pocket and take it with me.  I am not doing a single step for free.  It’s like when you’re on a diet and you’re allowed, say, one cup of cottage cheese, so you’re going to lick the measuring cup, because you measured a cup’s worth, and there’s no way you’re not eating that whole cup.  Licking the cup is zero calories!

At least I’m not doing all the cheats that people do, such as driving over really bumpy roads, sitting in a massage chair at the mall, sticking it in the dryer, giving it to my kids and telling them not to bother me until it reaches 10,000, attaching it to a baby swing, and tying it to a ceiling fan.  Securely.  There’s nothing in the pedometer to prevent these cheats, but I can’t set it to refresh at any time besides midnight.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.