The Importance of Focusing on the Habit of Exercise Rather Than the String of Activity

At a few minutes after 5pm on Friday, October 15, 2021, I finished perhaps the most grueling week of work I’ve experienced in many years.  My colleagues, Sujan Rajbhandary and Samantha Albert, led a group of Mercer Capitalists to complete so many gift tax appraisals I can’t count them all.  And then it was over.

So on Friday, I walked only 2.9 miles and about 5,900 steps.  That’s the first time in 215 day I walked less than 5 miles, and only the 5th time in the last 671 days.  I have walked an average of 6.3 miles per day over all this time, including the five days I’ve missed.

At the end of yesterday I felt perfectly fine physically and could easily have walked 5 miles after 5pm.  But I needed some mental health space.  I had a nice dinner and a couple of toddies and went to bed early.  My body was willing, but my spirit needed some relief.  Most often in life, as we know, it is the body that is willing and the spirit that is weak!

I woke up Saturday morning and went out to walk.  I walked 2.5 miles and enjoyed the sunrise over the Halifax River in Port Orange, Florida. That’s the picture above.  I played pickleball after the walk and by the end of the day I’d walked 16,500 steps and 7.8 miles.  This morning, Sunday, I went to the 8am service at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Daytona Beach, and then went to Pictona in Holly Hill to play pickleball for a few games.  It is just after lunch and I’ve walked 4.4 miles and have 9,300 steps.

Quite a number of people have told me that they have begun to develop their own walking habits, at least partially because of reading posts like this one.  There were times along the almost two years of regular walking when I almost believed that if I missed a day, the world would stop spinning.  Or at least, my world might stop.  That won’t happen for you or for me.  What is important about developing habits like walking or jogging or pickleball or whatever, is the habit.  Unbroken strings of activity are nice, to a point.  But not if the string itself is the obsession.  What is important is the habit and the knowledge that the habit is not broken if a string of activity is interrupted.

After granting myself Friday off from a minimum of 5 miles, I felt relieved to be able to do so without even a twinge of guilt.

If you are working on a walking string, that’s great.  But the day will come when, for reasons you may not know today, you will need to take a break.  It is okay to take a break.  Just get back on the horse – well, string – as soon as possible.

If you think that you should develop a walking habit, go to or and order the Fitbit of your choice.  My personal preference is the Fitbit Sense.  There are, of course, many other fitness trackers on the market.  I just like Fitbit.

Get your mind in gear while you wait for your Fitbit and strap it on when it arrives.

And then walk.  The Fitbit will track your steps whether you walk one mile or ten miles.  Get started, and then, rearrange your days to work in some walking time.  It won’t be long before you are doing 5,000 steps per day, 6,000 steps, 8,000 steps, 10,000 steps, or more.  Increase your activity a bit each day.  Park across parking lots or away from destinations.  Pick up a few more steps.  Walk a few minutes when you take a break.  But get started moving.  You will be glad you did.

My initial string was broken in March of this year at 451 days.  Along the way, I focused on the string.  But when I came up with a pulled groin muscle in March, I was able to slow down for four days while things improved.  My new string stopped at 215 days on Friday.  And that was okay, because now, I’m definitely focused on the habit and not on any string of activity.  But I will be at two days at the end of today and, I bet, three days after tomorrow. ☺

Hope to see you out walking or on the Pickleball courts somewhere.  In the meantime, be well!


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