Audobon Park, Memphis, TN
It started before the pandemic. Late last year, after ending a period of excessive travel and work, I decided to get back into the habit of daily walking. It wasn’t a momentous decision, just a little one. So I began to walk a minimum of five miles each day. The nominal goal is 10,000 steps, but it takes me, on average, a bit more steps to go five miles. Your mileage may vary.
The stock market recognized the pandemic beginning February 20, 2020. I was 68 days into my new habit. Mercer Capital went virtual on March 16, 2020 (day 93). On March 23, 2020, I posted about reaching 100 days in what I called my step challenge. On May 14, 2020, I posted about reaching 150 days in the challenge, and on July 1, 2020, I posted about reaching 200 days in the challenge.
Today is the 183rd day since the market crash beginning February 20th, and I am posting about reaching 250 days in the challenge to build a lasting habit. A few statistics after 250 days of walking every day:
- 3.15 million steps (as logged by my trusty Fitbit Versa 2)
- 1,474 miles (I’m estimating the rest of today!)
- 12,582 steps per day on average
- 5.9 miles per day on average
- 2,128 steps per mile on average
What have I learned as a result of these past 250 days? At first, it was difficult to work in five miles each day. Many days early on, I would end the work day with only two or three thousand steps, and then I’d have to take a long walk in the evening, which was not always convenient, to reach the five mile goal. Over time I’ve learned to go to bed earlier, on average. That means I am able to wake up between 6 and 6:30am most days and take a two mile or so walk before breakfast. It makes for a great start of each day.
I’ve learned to get up during the day and walk a bit. Five minutes here and five minutes there, it’s not only refreshing, but the steps add up. At lunch, I normally take a 10-15 minute walk, and then, walk some in the afternoon. By early afternoon, I have normally accumulated seven thousand steps or more. From there, it takes another walk in Audobon Park near my house, or a few games of pickleball. The bottom line is that I have learned to manage my day in a way that the goal happens most of the time. Occasionally, I have to gut things out late in the day, but very seldom.
I’ve also learned that walking is a way to deal with the stress of the pandemic. Walking time is a great time to think about anything other than work or isolation or wondering how long this unprecedented period will last. I’ve learned that I sleep better when I walk on a sustained basis. Yes, my Fitbit Versa 2 monitors that as well.
The length of this step challenge, together with talking with friends, has led me to break out of the short term view I had of the pandemic from the start. When we went virtual in mid-March, I was thinking that we would be back to normal by Memorial Day. When that didn’t happen, I shifted to thinking in terms of Labor Day. Well, that is not going to happen either. About two weeks ago, I had the realization that the pandemic, in some form, will likely go on for a year or more – from now, not from the start.
That realization for me and others is beginning to impact how I think about what I do each day, and it is impacting how we are approaching the future at Mercer Capital. I can tell you that recognizing the long-term nature of this COVID-19 thing has relieved me of the short-term angst, and almost dread, that I felt when I was hoping for a short-term solution.
“They” say that walking is good for us. I believe it. I encourage everyone who is able to begin to be conscious about walking on a regular basis. Five miles may not be your goal. Try for two miles or one mile to start. I’ve learned one more thing from these 250 days – no one will do the walking for me. I just have to get up and do it. I had a running instructor years ago whose mantra was “FOG.” That’s feet on the ground and moving!
All of this walking must be good for me. I went to the dentist yesterday and had a no-cavity checkup!
Hope you are healthy and safe during this very strange period in our lives. Be well!