Public servant Daniel Gleeson at the Attorney General's offices in Barton. Gleeson is wearing a pedometer to count his steps.

Public servant Daniel Gleeson: ‘‘I usually go for a run at lunchtime but I had a meeting from 12-12.30pm, so that didn’t happen ... Having the pedometer made me more aware of my habits." Total: 3829 steps. Photo: Rohan Thomson

THE RACE was on in Canberra this week to find out which profession clocked up the most hard yards during an average day.

A nurse beat everybody hands down, while office workers insisted they were also putting in the work - but were doing it mentally.

The Sunday Canberra Times challenged six professionals - including one of its own reporters - to wear a meter supplied by The John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. The aim was to see how much movement each professional packed into a full day, including after hours.

Room leader educator at the Manuka Occasional Day Care, Karen Carey with Liam Geraghty, 9 months of Kingston.

Childcare worker Karen Carey: ‘‘I’m busy at work. I’m generally on the go ... It’s lots of moving about. I took the pedometer off at 6pm and it turned off at one stage so I think it missed some steps.’’ Total: 5067 steps. Photo: Melissa Adams

Reporter Chris Knaus was flat out doing 4540 steps at the office, putting him in the ''sedentary'' category, but he managed to top it up in the evening with some late night shopping - reaching 6310 on his pedometer.

Nurse Fiona Kimber, who works at the Canberra Hospital, took an amazing 17,678 steps, which she put down partly to taking the stairs at work. ''I was surprised. I put it on at 6.30am and took it off at 11.30pm. I did 10,000 steps at work and 7000 after work,'' she said. ''The hospital is a very big campus and I move around a lot.''

University of Canberra lecturer of exercise physiology Kate Pumpa said anything less than 5000 steps in a day was considered sedentary, while between 5000 and 7500 was considered ''typical'' for an office worker and 7500 to 10,000 was an office worker who had gone for a run, walk or played a game of sport. ''To qualify as active you have to take more than 10,000 steps per day,'' Dr Pumpa said.

Journalist from the Canberra Times Chris Knaus will be wearing a pedometer in a study to see how may steps people in different professions walk in a day.

Journalist Chris Knaus: ‘‘I only did 4540 by the end of the day at work, though it was a really busy day. After that, I went to the shopping centre for some late night shopping.’’ Total: 6984 steps. Photo: Jay Cronan

''Anything over 12,500 steps per day is highly active.''

Dr Pumpa said pedometers were a useful, cheap way to gauge a person's activity. ''It can give people a wake up call,'' she said.

''People's perception of how active they are has really changed. A lot of people think they are active but because of the technology in our lives we are not as physically active as we used to be.

Infection control nurse at The Canberra Hospital, Fiona Kimber, does her rounds of the hospital's wards.

Nurse Fiona Kimber: ‘‘I got into the habit of always taking the stairs at work, I never take the lift.’’ Total: 17,678 steps. Photo: Graham Tidy

''The pedometers can show people how much they are really doing.

''The Australian physical activity guidelines say you should do 30 minutes of activity each day and vigorous activity three times per week to help avoid chronic diseases.

''But it also depends on the food you are eating during the day. If you take 10,000 steps but are eating lollies and junk food that will counterbalance it and you will still get fat.''

Public servant Daniel Gleeson said he had became a lot more conscious of his daily habits when he wore the pedometer.

''People say 'you should always take the stairs' and we have a lovely new building and what I noticed was that I was taking the lift up to the top level and then I was taking the stairs back down,'' he said.

''I had never noticed that about myself before.''

Manuka Occasional Childcare Centre's Karen Carey took 3376 steps, but suspects her pedometer may have been playing up.

''It was a typical day, fairly busy,'' she said.

''The pedometer [went] off at one stage, but I thought it was reasonable. Generally the job is very up and go.''