Six milles pas

Walking in Paris

Photo courtesy of Tristan

The revelation came last week: the French must walk 6,000 steps each day. Mais bon dieu! What has the world come to when even le Président de la République uses a step counter?

Under medical advice from French TV personality, Michel Cymes, it seems that François Hollande is counting his steps to keep fit. If he already had an image problem thanks to his yo-yo dieting and being driven around on a giant tricycle to see his paramour, I’m not sure that using a step counter is going to help. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity to get the healthy lifestyle message across to the notoriously resistant French

I’m not sure what possessed me to get a fitness tracker. I saw all those cool wrist bands people were wearing and thought, why not? Maybe it will inspire me to go a bit further in my regular if uninspired workouts. So I got one for my birthday last year.

My Fitbit (pronunciation in French: Feet-beet? Really?) has now been gathering dust on my dresser for the last few months. Essentially, it is more work than it’s worth. When it’s not buzzing to announce another milestone (10,000 steps!), the stupid thing requires constant charging and syncing and updating. It is yet another form of digital slavery. It doesn’t work on a bicycle or an elliptical trainer and you can’t wear it swimming. At the very least I thought it would have a GPS chip. When I mentioned this to my two tech whizzes (business intelligence husband and software engineer son), I was informed that I am naïve and overly demanding. Yep, that about sums it up.

As for the French, it seems their battle against inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle has just begun. Contrary to their reputation for biking around with baguettes under their arm, my compatriots don’t actually get out and about so much these days. Like most of us, they spend their days sitting in front of computers and in transport, not to mention at table.

6,000 steps is only about 30 minutes of walking a day. It may not be enough to combat all that food and wine but I’m willing to bet we see more French people counting steps.

What about you? Do you use a step counter or other fitness device?


  1. acflory · April 7, 2016

    Hmm…I looked at a Fit Bit one day. Surely that must count for something….:/

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      That’s worth at least 3,000 steps! 😉

      • acflory · April 7, 2016

        Phew! Thanks, I feel better already. 😀

  2. davidprosser · April 7, 2016

    At my age, the constant walking back and forth to the loo is all the exercise I need, well that and jumping to conclusions maybe.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      That and keeping us all in stitches, ha ha! Reminds me of a cartoon that showed Hollande asking his advisor: “Does backtracking count?” xo

  3. Suzy Barker · April 7, 2016

    So step counting has reached France … ha ha. Here in the UK we are told that 10,000 steps is what we need to do each day. I hiked yesterday with a friend who wears a fit bit all the time and swears by it to track her daily physical activity. She is a maths geeks and likes the graphs it produces?? Useless for me if one wouldn’t work on a cross trainer or on a bike. Overall I agree with you – it would annoy me, and I’d just shove it in a drawer and forget about it.

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      I agree that 10,000 steps is a more reasonable goal but the French as you know are not huge believers in fitness. Step counters are good but I also believe that it’s not just quantity but quality – I have to get my heart rate up and sweat to feel the satisfaction. I guess it’s whatever works for each individual….

  4. coteetcampagne · April 7, 2016

    No I don’t count steps, I just restore old village houses for fun…..This month I have developed biceps like Madonna from demolishing old ceilings and painting new ones

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      Aha, I want to see the killer biceps on a future post, Madame! I admire your passion for restoration as I live in a modern house. Ceiling painting is really hard going!

      • coteetcampagne · April 7, 2016

        I think original passion to restore when we bought this house has now turned into more of a necessity to get the damn thing finished!

  5. anneharrison · April 7, 2016

    I so agree about digital slavery. I have a dog who makes me walk; we don’t count steps, although I do listen to podcasts and books as we go – I even have French lessons! I know I don’t exercise enough, but a band on my arm won’t change that.

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      It is great to leave the gadgets behind and just be free and easy sometimes, eh? My dogs get me walking but it’s not really exercise so much for me as they sniff about so much. What a great way to learn French! 🙂

  6. George Lewis · April 7, 2016

    Don’t know why your feet beet does not work on exercise bikes ,my charge HR does . by the way , 6000 steps a day is hardly moving ,I do that just walking around the house .

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      It works but doesn’t count steps accurately, so what’s point? As for the 6000 steps, I agree it’s insufficient…but small steps, eh?

  7. Suzanne et Pierre · April 7, 2016

    I don’t use any of these gadgets exactly for the reasons you mentioned in your article. I think they are gimmick and don’t really work in getting people more active. Being active is part of your way of life and if it isn’t then a gadget won’t make you being active. I love walking everywhere so I do probably more than 6,000 steps a day (except on days when the weather is miserable like right now…).

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      I could not agree more, Suzanne. Keeping active is a way of life and a fitness tracker is about as useful to me as counting calories! That said, I do believe there are people who are motivated by the data if it works for them, that’s great too 🙂 Whatever works!

  8. barbedwords · April 7, 2016

    Very interesting. I use my phone for the same purpose and it is a great feeling of satisfaction when I’ve done my 10,000 steps for the day!

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      That’s funny, the phone app is also the thing that our cher Président uses. I was just saying I don’t need gadgets but the ideal would be to have it be painlessly integrated all one device. Good to know it keeps you moving!

  9. frenchimmersion · April 7, 2016

    Hmm so a 2h walking tour every day plus a half an hour walk to get there means i’m doing 5x what I need – More cheese? Don’t mind if I do!

    • MELewis · April 7, 2016

      Sounds like you are more than working off any calories you consume. I’d say go for the cheese – and why not a pain au chocolat? 😉

  10. Andrea · April 7, 2016

    I’ve got a pedometer. It doesn’t count the steps you take when your ironing. I’ve ironed all day before, back and forth to put things in pikes around me, not a step counted. Very annoyed.

    • MELewis · April 8, 2016

      There should be an app for that. An ironometer? Elbow steps should count! 😉

  11. awtytravels · April 7, 2016

    Do I use a FitBit? No, I’ve got London’s Underground! Between strikes, signal failures, weekend closures and much more there’s at least one chance per week to do a good five k’s on foot to get to work (or home), often under the rain. Who needs funky gadgets?

    • MELewis · April 8, 2016

      Ha, ha….just heading off for a few days in Paris. Will probably face the same issues as it’s full strike season! I suppose there are worse ways to keep fit?

  12. poshbirdy · April 7, 2016

    I always think it’s rather a depressing idea, that we should make a regimen out of such basic activity as walking (Have I mis-spelt regimen? It looks all wrong). I think the real enemy of fitness is the digital slavery of these devices. We need to look outward, instead of inward

    • MELewis · April 8, 2016

      Probably the French influence of ‘regime’ that makes the word look funny. Agree it’s much better for mind and body to look around or possibly explore our own thoughts rather than have eyes trained on a device!

  13. Kat · April 8, 2016

    I do 30 mins of walk on the treadmill twice or thrice a week only, aargghh! In Malaysia, that’s definitely not enough to combat our fried and greasy food laden with coconut milk, spices 😦

    • MELewis · April 8, 2016

      Damage control, eh? I would love to try some of that food – a nice change from cheese and sauces!

  14. Food,Photography & France · April 8, 2016

    I was watching, on BBC television, the latest fad for checking the likelihood of having a long life. It’s a simple test of sitting down on the floor from a standing position and standing up again without using your hands –
    check it out:)

    • MELewis · April 11, 2016

      Excellent! Not to be tried after wine with lunch. 😉

      • MELewis · April 16, 2016

        Oddly, I am able to do this and husband, who can outrun, outski and outdo me in most sports, can’t. I think a low center of gravity and a bit of yoga make the difference, but wonder how much of a predictor of longevity that really is? Interesting test nonetheless!

  15. Mél@nie · April 8, 2016

    @”Do you use a step counter or other fitness device?” – nope, never, not at all! 🙂 c’est grave, Dr MELewis?… 😉 seriously speakin’, I do walk at least 1/2h/day – dehors, of course! 🙂
    * * *
    bonne soirée & have a sunny weekend! 🙂

    • MELewis · April 11, 2016

      The doctor approves! You radiate the energy and good health of someone who enjoys being in the great outdoors. Merci Melanie 🙂

  16. Lisa @ cheergerm · April 11, 2016

    He he… This gave me a good giggle. I do wear a Fitbit, we are told minimum 10.000 steps a day and that’s not for weight loss. Otherwise it’s more than that. I have mine set at 12,000. I find it just provides me a baseline of the minimum I should be doing. I still have to exercise but at least it gives me a kick up the bum on a ‘slow day.’

    • MELewis · April 11, 2016

      You are one smart cookie, Lisa! Maybe I’ll try to ollow your lead and use it as a back up butt-kick to move a bit more on slow days – probably more often than I care to admit. 😉

  17. jackiemallon · April 14, 2016

    I love walking so I’ve never felt the need. I walk the leather off my shoes! I was tempted to buy one of the FIt Bits for my husband for Christmas for the sleep analysis function but I didn’t think he would wear it. He told me later I was right 🙂

    • MELewis · April 16, 2016

      Ha, ha…also thought I would use it for sleep function but have never bothered either. The idea of wearing something around my wrist at night is too much for my already sleep challenged self! Keep wearing out your soles – enjoying walking is probably the best thing to stay fit long term.

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