Health and Fitness / Whaddya Think, Dr. Fink?

Stepping Out

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drjeri-stepping1Fitness. It’s the next best thing since fried ice cream. Yet too many of us avoid the upgrade.

Today we live longer but not necessarily better. The numbers are up (cholesterol, weight, blood pressure). We spend more time on the recliner than getting lean and mean.

Let’s face it – how many Jane Fondas dwell among us? It’s more fun to guess the perp on Law & Order  than hit the pavement. The truth hurts – we can’t all be Tao Lynch, 97-years old and teaching yoga on YouTube.

On the other hand, fitness is good for us. It gives us energy to play hide-and-go-seek and push Bugaboo strollers. It builds strength to stand on the bus or subway when teenagers in neon earbuds hog the seats. It reduces stress, heart disease, and the risk of Alzheimers. And it makes us feel better.

Senior Adult Man Working Out in the Gym.Stand up AFLers. Join an exercise group that might be called The Lean Mean Senior Machine or You Go Silvers. Play tai chi or zumba. Practice your moves in ballroom dancing. Head to the golf course and if you can afford it, go presidential at Mar-a-Lago.

Top it all off with an activity tracker.

These high-tech devices, also called fitness trackers, put everything into cold, hard numbers for walkers, runners, bikers, weight lifters . . . just about anything you choose. Depending on your investment, you get perks like heartrate, pulse, calories burned . . . everything but the recipe for fried ice cream. The favored unit of measurement is steps.

Think of it this way . . . do you know how many steps it takes to get from your television to the refrigerator? Any activity tracker will give you this critical piece of information.

Activity trackers are like having a fly on your shoulder that keeps count. You can find them on wrists, smart watches, smart phones, and other assorted wearables. They have names like Fitbit, Vivofit, and Jawbone – in all colors, sizes, and styles.

drjeri-stepping2My first activity tracker was a snap bracelet that reported to my iPhone. It was very nasty, leaving messages like “62% of people your age took more steps than you today. Get going!”

I refused to be digitally abused.

I turned it in for a smartphone app. One friend, not to be outdone, did the same so she could compare her steps to mine. Competition emerged like a psychopathic fly.

“I did 12,000 steps today,” she bragged. “2000 more than you.”

I was determined to prevail. I took telephone calls going up and down stairs to get extra steps. TV was a footrace around the couch. My car was left at the fringe of every parking lot to increase steps to the supermarket.

drjeri-stepping3I was winning. But I was also exhausted.

Jess, a thirty-something manager, took pity on me. “Stay fit,” she advised sagely, “and win the steps game.”

She was brilliant. I returned to the pleasures of watching Law & Order on my couch. I grab the closest parking spots and sip tea when I’m on the telephone. I still say fit but my only competitor is me.

“Put your activity tracker on your dog’s collar,” Jess told me.

It worked.

So, take that, Jane Fonda!


Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at,,   or to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her fiction project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers that defy tradition. She is presently working on Book Web Minis – a series of fun, fast and positive mini books (50-70 pages long) where readers partner with the experts. Check it out at

She tells us: “I challenge the art of writing by merging fact, fictional elements, interactivity, and photography into nonfiction mini books. I draw from my training in social work, experience in individual and family therapy, professional research, and passion for exploring positive psychology. My 32 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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