Contributed by Pat Owen, Quality Forum 2015 Steering Committee. Pat was asked to be one of the first people to make a pledge for Change Day. As a result, she has been acting on her pledge to get 10,000 steps a day since February! Below, she shares how she stays motivated and committed to fitting in daily physical activity.

Tell us how you chose your pledge.

It wasn’t a hard pledge to decide on because as a diabetic I need to walk. My pledge was 10,000 steps a day. We’ve lived here [in Kamloops] a long time, 40 plus years, and I’ve got all sorts of routes in the neighbourhood.

Where do you like to walk?

There are lots of walking places here. The university is 10 minutes away, so I walk over there frequently, and it’s just a beautiful walk. You can look over the valley and see the meeting of the North and South Thompson Rivers. You can hear the birds singing. There’s a daycare nearby, so you can hear children playing. There’s always interesting things going on. It’s like a full sensory experience.

What do you do in bad weather?

When the weather is cold or snowy, and it’s too slippery, I either walk with poles, or I have a rebounder [trampoline] downstairs that I bounce on for half an hour. The rebounder doesn’t give me quite the same number of steps but it does give me a good workout, and I try to get in the other steps as I can during the day.

After your pledge, did you get feedback and talk about it?

Yes, I talked to a lot of people about it actually! Most of the people I spoke to were not in the health care field. They were ordinary people, you know, neighbours and family and other people that I see from time to time. None of them pledged, but it did give them something to think about. Lots of people do walk every day; they may not have a Fitbit on their arm, but it’s something that they like to do and they know it makes them feel better.

Why did you pick 10,000 steps as your target?

10,000 steps wasn’t something I pulled out of the blue. Whenever you read about diabetics and exercise, 10,000 steps is one of the basics of diabetic health care. And if you do your exercise early in the morning, it affects how your blood sugar works throughout the day, so I try to get mine in fairly early in the day.

Do you have people you walk with?

Yes, I have a neighbour across the street, and often we go together. But I don’t have any problem just heading off by myself either. I found that I had to develop a lot of self-motivation; I can’t really wait around for other people to say that they’ll go too. I just have to get out and do it on my own if necessary.

Besides just going out there on your own, what else do you do to maintain your pledge?

Being consistent is important. I find after I come home from traveling, it’s really hard to kick start myself into exercising the way I did before I left. So that’s not always an easy piece. For traveling, my rebounder can fold up and it has a carrying case, so I can take it with me. If I’m traveling from place to place, and it’s not convenient to walk, I just bounce for half an hour. That takes a little less time than a walk; my walk is about an hour. I figure out what my day is like and plan where to put it.

What would you recommend to someone else who wanted to make a goal to be more active?

I think it really depends on what you like to do. I’m not a runner- it’s not something I really enjoy, so I prefer walking. And I like yoga and weight training, so put all those three together and it works pretty well for me. If you hate something, there’s no way you can be consistent doing it. You need to analyze what your time frame is, when you can fit exercise in, and really what you like to do.

Also, analyze whether you’re a person who needs a team, or a person who can do it on their own. With my husband, he likes going to hockey, because there are set times when he goes, and he just has to show up. That works for him. Everyone is different so you just have to understand what your requirements are.