Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep me from my walking goals (to paraphrase the Post Office motto).
It’s hard to believe but I decided to begin to walk regularly in early December 2019. On December 15th of that year, I began a conscious effort to walk daily. June 1st of 2022 marks the 900th day since that decision was made. The process has changed the way I think about each day and has had a long-term positive impact on my health. A couple of things from along the way:
- I walked through the COVID-19 pandemic. I was losing weight while others were experiencing a “pandemic bulge.”
- My streak was unbroken for 451 days when I somehow pulled a groin muscle in March 2021. It slowed me down for four days.
- On October 15, 2021, I took what I can only describe as an “attitude adjustment” day. There was nothing wrong except with my attitude.
- On March 15-16, 2022, I had a two-day bout with food poisoning, which put me in bed for a day and a half.
- Otherwise, I’ve walked every day for at least five miles for the 900 days since December 15, 2019.
Over this period, I’ve walked just shy of 5,500 miles and some 11.8 million steps. My average daily miles, including my slow days, is 6.1 miles, and the average step count is 13,100 steps per day.
Walking Becomes Part of Life and Health
At this point, walking, or, alternatively, playing pickleball – which my Fitbit Sense counts as steps – is just part of life. I wake up each morning looking forward to walking at least 2-3 miles. This morning, I walked 4 miles before breakfast. I walked two miles (8 laps on the University of Memphis track) in 31 minutes, which is pretty good for me.
After my morning walks, I’m just looking for opportunities each day to walk more to achieve at least my minimum goal of 5 miles.
Is there something magic about 5 miles per day? One study shows the same benefits can be achieved with 7,000 steps or so, or about 3.5 miles. I don’t care. The goal seems to be working for me.
- My weight is down 10-11 pounds, depending on the day
- Cholesterol statistics are good
- Blood pressure is pretty good, from pretty bad
- All the other bloodwork is good
- And my pickleball game is better☺
I’ll keep on keeping on.
As I’ve said before, I wear a Fitbit Sense. I get no commissions for promoting this watch. In addition to monitoring steps and miles and calories expended and activity, it measures the quality of sleep. Battery life is 4-5 days if one conserves battery power. There are other Fitbits that do similar things. But I like the way that this watch looks, as well.
Do You Want to Have a Walking Program?
Wherever you are in your health life, walking is probably a pretty good thing to consider. I am not a doctor and provide no medical advice. Wherever you are, the first step is to begin to measure your steps/miles. Many people now have Apple watches. These measure steps and miles and more, but battery life is not good. Pick your poison. But the smartwatches I’ve seen will all keep histories so you can monitor progress.
A friend told me she wanted to increase her walking. She was averaging just under 5,000 steps per day. We talked about it and she started thinking about walking and focusing on it a bit. Her average went up to 6,800 steps and she posted a couple of 10,000 step days. She has begun a walking program by just being aware.
If you begin a walking program, your point of reference should be yourself. Measure progress relative to yourself and not against some seemingly impossible goal or athletic nerd. The keys to any walking program are first, to start, and second, to measure.
Some Tips to Increase Walking
Awareness is the key to regular walking at the distance you select. Consider the following:
- Wear a Fitbit (or another smartwatch). A smartwatch will capture steps and accumulate your daily information on a phone app. Most phones have an app that will capture steps, but it isn’t convenient to carry a phone sometimes. I prefer a watch, which takes the thinking out of capturing steps.
- Have an active morning. I’ve started a routine of stretching and toe raises that loosens me up and provides more than 1,000 steps for starters. My goal is to have at least 2,000 steps or more before I get to the office. A good start helps assure success.
- Consider a walk first thing in the morning. The morning walk, including stretching, has overtaken my initial plan.
- Create opportunities for steps. If I have an extra 10 minutes and am in a building or where walking is feasible, I try to tack on 1,000 steps a couple of times per day.
- Get up during the day and walk. I can walk in our office or out in the hall or anywhere. A 500-step walk break is invigorating for the body and the mind.
- Walk after lunch. See the two items above. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “After a meal, walk a hundred steps to live to be ninety-nine.”
- Create other opportunities for steps. We all drive to places and park. Decide to park at the far end of the parking lot wherever you go. I’ve discovered that any trip to the grocery or to a big box store is worth at least 1,000 steps. And be sure that your watch hand is not on a grocery basket and is free to swing.
- Engage in sports. For years, my sport of choice was a form of handball, then I discovered pickleball. My goal, while I am in Memphis, is to play at least three times per week and preferably four. When I’m at our Florida spot in Port Orange, I try to play every morning.
- Think about movement. Move while you can. Move as long as you can. There is nothing better for the body or the mind than being physically active. An exercise trainer I knew would just say, “FOG!” It means “feet on the ground” and moving.
Well, that’s about it. I’ve posted about this walking thing a number of times over the last 900 days. We’ll see what it looks like at 1,000 days. In the meantime, be well and keep walking.