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?

38 thoughts on “Six milles pas

  1. 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.

    1. 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….

  2. 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

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

  4. 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 .

  5. 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…).

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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?

  8. 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

    1. 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!

  9. 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 😦

      1. 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!

  10. @”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! 🙂

  11. 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.’

    1. 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. 😉

  12. 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 🙂

    1. 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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