Walking has become part of my daily life. Some readers have been following my posts about walking for quite a while. My current journey began 3 1/2 years ago on December 15, 2019. As 2019 was drawing to a close, I realized that I had not been taking care of myself. My weight had risen to 212 pounds, which was the highest it had ever been. My cholesterol, blood pressure and a few other vital indicators were not in appropriate ranges. I decided to change and began a journey of walking and other exercise that has changed my life for the good. My initial goal was 10,000 steps per day, which I soon revised to 5.0 miles per day. In the last 3 1/2 years, or 182 weeks, or 1,278 days, my summary walking statistics are:
Yes, I do record my statistics every day on a spreadsheet. I’ve walked 7,893 miles since the beginning for a total of 16.6 million steps. My averages include 13,024 steps per day and 6.2 miles per day. This morning, I weighed 196 pounds, which is still a few pounds higher than my longer-term goal, but the improvement is significant over the 3 1/2 years. All those numbers that doctors look at have also improved significantly and are within normal ranges, thankfully.
Last month, I changed my personal goal statement to that of walking a minimum of 35 miles per week, or an average of 5 miles per day. This change gave me “permission” to have an off day every now and then and still be able to meet the minimum weekly goal. Looking back over the past 182 weeks, I have “failed” the weekly test only six times, and the average mileage for those six weeks was 31.2 miles per week.
Why Do I Walk and Play Pickleball?
At this point, I walk because I walk. I walk to help keep on moving. My observation is that as many older folks (older than me, of course!) stop moving and lose flexibility, the aging process accelerates. And weakness and lack of flexibility contribute to falls which, as I understand it, are one of the largest contributors to accelerated deaths. I plan to keep on walking and moving.
When I wake up in the morning each day, I begin to think about how and when I will walk to achieve five miles. Of course, on days when I can play pickleball, it is a bit easier. And I do play pickleball several times per week. Depending on the competitiveness of play, my Fitbit Sense records about a mile of steps in two or three 11 point games. On a good day, I’ll pick up three miles, plus or minus, on the pickleball courts. The rest, as they say, is easy. At this point, I play pickleball because I play pickleball.
I played in a men’s 3.5 doubles scrambler last evening at Pictona. Pictona has 49 pickleball courts and 13 of them are covered. We have visitors from all over the state of Florida and, indeed, the nation, so there is no shortage of competition. My partner and I took Silver (that’s like Avis used to be) in the event. By the way, at 75, I was the oldest participant in the event. My partner was a young 51 years of age. I had a couple of pictures taken during the competition just to prove that I do get out there.
Where Do I Walk?
I walk wherever I am. When I travel, I make time to walk. A few months ago I spent a long weekend in New York City visiting my son and his fiancé. Walking is easy in NYC because it is an essential way of getting around. For the four days I was there, I averaged over 8 miles per day. When I travel on business, I make time in the morning or evening or both to take a couple of long walks – wherever I am, and whatever the weather is. Layovers and delays at airports provide good opportunities to walk. If I’m with someone, I’ll leave my roller bag. If I’m alone, I’ll just push it along while walking. I’ve walked many miles in airports. When the weather is bad, I walk in hotel workout facilities, on large floors, in malls or large stores in downtown areas. I walk in my neighborhoods in Memphis and Florida. If all else fails, I will run in place. It is harder and boring, but when it is time to walk, I walk.
The Magic of 10,0000 Steps?
Is there any magic to walking 10,000 steps (or about 5 miles per day for men)? I don’t know for sure, but walking has worked magic for me. It seems that many of the people who say this level of walking is not necessary are overweight healthcare providers. Seriously. the magic is not in a particular number of steps or miles. The magic is in regular movement. Many years ago, a running coach told me the magic was in FOG, or “feet on the ground.”
Your mileage may vary, but in my “medical” opinion, a beginning point is to acquire a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other smart watch that will count your steps. I recommend the Fitbit Sense 2 because it looks good to me, works like a charm, and only needs recharging every four days or so. I’m wearing mine in the pictures above – don’t want to miss any steps!
Wear the watch for a couple of weeks in the normal course of life. At the end of that time, see what your average daily step count has been. It does not matter if it is 1,500, 2,500, 4,000 or more steps per day. This is what you are doing in the normal course of time.
Whatever the number is, if you think that the benefits are worth the effort, add 1,000 steps per day to your baseline and try to achieve that over the next couple of weeks. Then do that again and again until you are comfortable walking 6,000 steps, or 8,000 steps, or 10,000 steps per day. And just think about incorporating the necessary walking time into your day to achieve your new goals.
For me, the magic is in the walking on a regular basis and in adjusting my time and energy to walk. Where will the magic be for you?
Please feel free to share your thoughts.