Saturday, November 3, 2012

Take a Walk!

As a kid, I was pretty active, although I was never especially athletic.  I grew up out in the country and my family had a firmly-held belief that small children were best kept out of trouble by frequent weeding of v-e-r-y long garden rows.  We also kept horses throughout most of my youth and I could curry a pony before I was taller than said pony's ears.  Further, my mother grew up in the mountains of southwest Virginia and instilled a love of hiking in me.  So it's reasonable that I grew up being quite happy tramping through the woods, roasting marshmallows over campfires and shivering in my sleeping bag knowing that the awful ghost stories probably weren't true, but still feeling my heart jump at every snapped twig.

Then I got older and More Responsible, which seems to involve spending a great deal of time in a stuffy office, hunched over a desk.  It's a funny thing, but after a certain height is achieved, it seems acceptable to "work out," but not to just "play outside."  Everything needs a goal, I suppose.  So, over the years, I've tried to have goal-oriented workouts, usually involving trying to get to that magic mark of ten thousand steps a day.  But I'm cheap, so I always had lousy pedometers that (a) didn't work, (b) broke easily, and/or (3) weren't especially accurate.  The pedometer would give up the ghost and, soon afterward, I'd quit, too.

About two weeks ago, I had the brainstorm of looking into whether the App Store had a free (I'm still cheap, you know!) pedometer app.  I don't have an iPhone, but I have an iPad through the school's technology initiative and I have to say, I've found it to be a very useful tool, although I still don't think it's the end-all, be-all. Not having an iPhone meant whatever I chose, I was going to have to carry the iPad with me so it could count my steps.  Would there by anything out there that could convince me to lug the iPad with me while walking the dog or turning laps on the college's walking track?

Turns out yes.

Let me recommend (and my technical services support guru is going to beam at the very idea of me recommending an app!) a lovely free app called Striiv.  This app not only counts your steps, it gives you frequent encouragement and points.  You can accept little challenges like "take 100 steps in the next 10 minutes" to earn points (more on that later) and when you figure out how easy it is to win a challenge, you grab the next one.  I've been using Striiv for not quite two weeks now and my average step count is over 8,100 steps (I've cracked 10,000 daily steps once).  It's not a race, but I have to admit that I like seeing the numbers go up.

What to do with those points?  Well, Striiv also comes with a game where you build an island.  I admit, I thought this was just lame, but now I'm hooked.  I've never gotten hooked on a game - I enjoyed video games Way Back When, but I've never been a real gamer.  (Exception noted for the movie quote puzzle game Enscripted, which I play every day over my first cup of coffee.)  But with this, I find myself forming strategy - what can I plant or build to earn enough coins to buy a Fire Maple?  Now how can I earn enough points to grow the Fire Maple to full size?

See - you start with just a hut and a tiki torch (OK, it's a "Prometheus Torch," the game has a certain Classical Greek vibe) that generate some coins.

Where I started - a hut and a torch!

You can save up the coins and buy other plants or structures, but you have to build/grow your new stuff through three additional stages before it's finished and will then generate more coins to buy more stuff.  And some things come with critters to roam your island.  Tap on those and they wave at you, the tiger swipes at you with a paw, and I now have an ostrich who (you guessed it) buries its head.

Plants, a fishpond, a vineyard, and a half-built Fountain of Youth!

Might be crazy, but for me, it's working.  Oops!  Gotta go - I need to earn enough points to build the next stage of my Fountain of Youth!

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