Exercise according to Boris the Fitbit

Running is not exercise

To optimise recorded steps for my future exertions, I performed certain exercises and recorded how many steps Boris the Fitbit counted. Turns out Boris has trouble with numbers.

I recently acquired a personal trainer called Boris the Fitbit. Boris has shown me that I don’t pace enough while sitting at my desk, and I rarely get enough sleep.

I suspect I could have figured these out for myself.

One of Boris’ main goals is to get me to walk 10k steps every day, and he usually fails abysmally. However, casual observation suggests that he and I disagree on what constitutes a step.

The scientific side of me has decided to get serious about this and document exactly what Boris counts as a step so if I don’t game the system I can at least figure out why I’m losing so badly.

Walking while swinging my arms

The test: I walked 10 double steps (right-left = 1) at a moderate pace while swinging my arms. This involved two corners (my hallway is not that long and it’s raining outside) and stumbling over a mess on the floor of the spare room in the dark (due to a distinct lack of planning).

The verdict: Boris says I walked 16 paces.

Hmm, there is something distinctly odd about that. If Boris had said 10 paces I would have understood, and if he’d said 20 paces I would have understood. But it seems he can’t make up his mind if he’s counting single paces or double paces, and so he’s splitting the difference.

The final possibility is that because I’ve had a bit to drink I miscounted or miscalculated. No, I’m sure it’s not that.

Walking while reading a kindle

Let’s face it, half the time when you’re walking you’re not swinging your arms, but reading a book. Does the lack of arm motion fool Boris?

Let’s find out.

The test: I walked 10 double steps while reading my kindle, held in both hands. Somehow I ended up stumbling around in the dark again. I guess I don’t learn.

The verdict: Boris says I walked 20 paces.

Well I never!

Star jumps

The test: 10 star jumps (not in the dark), which involved a certain level of annoyance for hubby and His Royal Fluffiness.

The verdict: Boris says I walked 15 paces.

These are some kind of mystical averages, I swear it. Count the number of steps and divide by the square root of fairydust.


The test: 10 strokes on the rowing machine set to level 4. May I point out that it’s freaking cold in the dining room where the rowing machine currently lives?

The verdict: Zero steps.

Noooo! Boris, how could you? Because I’m sitting down it doesn’t count, is that what you’re saying?

Is there a verticality criterion that I missed?

They say what you measure is what you get. While they might have been talking about GDP, I think the same idea applies here. It’s true, I’ve rowed only once since making friends with Boris.

Wall handstands

The test: Three handstands against the wall, each of which involved at least one step because I had to kick up into them. Also, a certain amount of standing around blinking away stars between times.

The verdict: Zero steps.

Boris, you have broken my heart.

But the stars are rather pretty and they hide the cat fluff on the carpet.


The test: I stood and flapped my arms up and down 10 times.

The verdict: Boris says I took 8 steps.

I didn’t get airborne, but flapping is harder than it sounds. I think Boris is being stingy on this front.

I suppose he’s a stingy kind of guy.

It could come from being a watch with a limited ability to count.

Patting His Royal Fluffiness

The test: 7 x head rub + body stroke, 5 x snatching away my hand as he tried to scratch me, 1 x yelping when he hooked his claws into both sides of my hand. He was only playing.

Note all these were done with my left hand, the one wearing Boris, which might explain why I snatched my hand away more slowly than usual.

The verdict: Boris says I took 7 steps.

I’m bleeding in two places. I deserve more than 7 steps.


Boris has spoken. Stroking the cat is better exercise than rowing, and don’t even bother with the handstands. But I guess we already knew that.

Do you agree Boris is short-changing me? What’s the most tiring non-exercise that you do?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

15 thoughts on “Exercise according to Boris the Fitbit”

  1. Can we add stairs? Because I’ve got a staircase in my house. Exact same staircase I walk up and down all the time. And sometimes my fitbit (who doesn’t have a name because she doesn’t deserve a name) it counts as a flight of stairs and sometimes, she doesn’t. So, there are times I’ll be running back and forth trying to get in my daily stairs, and just… well, when exactly is this going to count as a flight of stairs? I’ve never figured it out.

    1. I would have done stairs, but we don’t have any stairs. I was also going to do running up the hill (which is kind of like stairs), except it was absolutely pelting down. What I do know is that Boris once recorded 11 flights of stairs as I drove down a hill in the car. If I were you, I’d try walking up and down the stairs while reading a kindle. That seems to increase the count.

  2. Petting the cat should absolutely count for higher than 7 steps. The adrenaline rush alone from the uncertainty of whether you’re going to get attacked or not must burn a fair amount of calories.

  3. Lol same goes for holding a cart when you go grocery shopping. It can be annoying lol the worst is when you’re close to 8:00pm and only walked 3k lol you know there is no way you’ll make the 10k lol

    1. That sounds like me most nights. 🙂

      I was in bed one evening and realised I only had 20 steps to go to 10k – so I had to get up and pace until I made the extra 20. I swear it took about 50 steps.

  4. Boris is a jerk. I have an Apple Watch that is equally rude. I did a 2.5 hour 7 mile hike the other day, and it said I did only about 35 minutes of exercise! If these devices are going to be so critical I’d like to see THEM grow legs and walk 10k steps.

    1. Wow, what a jerk! And while they try to do their 10k steps on their wobbly little mechanical legs we’ll point and laugh and say, “those steps don’t count!”

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