ChrisMercer.net is a blog where I talk primarily about things related one way or another to business valuation, but I also venture into personal topics from time to time. Walking has been one of those topics.
Three years ago, on December 15, 2019, I began a journey and did not know where it would lead. I had been traveling a great deal and working too hard. While I have always jogged, ran, or played active sports, my schedule cut into my working out.
My weight was up more than ten pounds, my cholesterol was out of kilter, my blood pressure was too high, and I was just worn out. I knew something had to change, so I made a hopeful commitment to walk at least 10,000 steps (now 5 miles, or about 10,400 steps) every day. I say a hopeful commitment because I had made a few of those in the past, and things just didn’t last. But I had a bit more faith in this commitment because, well, I was committed. But the proof is in the pudding.
I posted progress on my walking journey on this blog at 50 days, 60 days, 100 days, 150 days, 200 days, 250 days, 407 days, 500 days, a 215-day streak after that, two years, 1000 days, and now at three years.
Three years is 1096 days. During the last three years, I’ve missed my now five-mile-per-day target only 16 times. I had a pulled groin muscle (4 days), a bout with food poisoning (2 days), one bad attitude day, and a case of some non-covid thing that almost completely sapped my energy for nine days.
Some statistics of this walking journey include the following:
- A pretty good record for 1096 days, or three years
- 14.3 million steps
- 6,700 miles
- 6.1 miles average daily walking (including off days)
- 13,100 steps per day average
Over this period of time, walking has progressed from something I wanted to do to something that I just do.
Why Do I Walk?
Commitment wears thin in the absence of benefits from almost anything in life. I can list a number of benefits from my three years of walking, including:
- Losing about 14 pounds.
- Better focus on a good diet and portion control. Early in the pandemic, I instituted my “one plate per meal” rule. Basically, I quit eating seconds and only seldom have a small dessert.
- Lowering blood pressure to normal or very near normal range.
- Improving my cholesterol counts. I can never remember the numbers, but they are good.
- Improving physical fitness and endurance.
- Improving my pickleball game.
- Longer and better quality sleeping, with an average of 7 hours 43 minutes per night (thank you, Fitbit!)
- Improving balance and flexibility.
- Improving my mental attitude towards each day. I’ve always had a pretty good attitude, but now I’m much more eager to get up and start each new day with some walking.
In addition, I know that many friends and acquaintances have started their own walking programs, at least partially motivated by my posts on this blog and LinkedIn. That is gratifying.
Where and When do I Walk?
This next section borrows from a previous post, but it bears repeating. The bottom line is that I walk anywhere and anytime I can.
- In my neighborhood in Memphis.
- On the University of Memphis campus, which is nearby.
- Around Sea Bird Island, where my Florida place is.
- On pickleball courts wherever I am. Last Saturday morning, I got over 4,000 steps playing pickleball for a couple of hours.
- On a treadmill, if it is raining or the weather is too cold to walk outside comfortably.
- In the exceptionally large lobby of my office building.
- From a long way from the doors of restaurants, big box stores, or anywhere I go. These extra steps add up and are easy to get.
- I’ve walked in malls in Memphis and in other cities where I have found myself near one.
- On the streets of New York (I averaged about eight miles per day while I visited my son a couple of months ago).
- Airports are large and spread out, so they provide opportunities to walk. In addition, I walk when I’m waiting for the next plane instead of sitting on my duff.
- Around my office building.
- To nearby restaurants.
- Running in place. This is not my favorite, but a few times, there has been little recourse but to run in place in a hotel room or wherever I happened to be.
- The five floors of my parking garage at home when it is pouring outside.
- On the beach near my Florida place.
In addition to all of these opportunities to walk, we all have opportunities to walk whether just getting around or going from place to place.
Benefits? Don’t Just Take it From Me
Studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) show that walking 10,000 steps can improve cardiovascular health and reduce risks of both dementia and cancer better than any pill or injection currently available. See these articles:
- JAMA Neurology Association of Daily Step Count and Intensity With Incident Dementia in 78 430 Adults Living in the UK.
- JAMA Internal Medicine. Prospective Associations of Daily Step Counts and Intensity With Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality and All-Cause Mortality.
These studies were published in September 2022, so they are very new. The first article talks about the intensity of steps while walking and relates walking with intensity to a decreased incidence of dementia. That evidence is certainly reinforcing to me. I have had too many friends and acquaintances who have had to deal with dementia, either personally or with a loved one. That is a scary thing.
I typically walk at a pace of 17-18 minute miles, which is plenty intense, according to the study. Sometimes, at the beach or on a track, I walk about a 15-minute mile, which is pretty intense for me. I think a 20-minute mile would be plenty intense for the benefits discussed in the studies.
The second article relates the positive benefits of intense walking in reducing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. That’s good news to me also.
Previous studies were inconclusive about the benefits of 10,000 steps per day or found benefits at much lower levels. The new studies point out issues with the older studies.
In any event, I didn’t need the new studies to know that my walking program has benefitted me. I just know it from the above. But they affirm what I thought I already knew. And perhaps they will encourage many people to begin to walk more regularly.
December 15, 2019, marked a life change for me. I began walking daily at the rate of at least five miles per day. December 14, 2022, marks the end of three years. December 15, 2022, will be the three-year anniversary.
Will there be another day when I don’t walk five miles? Likely so. There have been a few during the last three years. But will I continue to walk regularly? At this point, what do you think? I’m guessing that I will.
I hope you have enjoyed my occasional posts about walking. And I hope that reading the posts at least causes you to think about the potential mental and physical health benefits obtained through a regular walking program.
And don’t hesitate to contact me to talk about walking or any need for business valuation services! Please do comment on this post.
Walk on and be well,