Two Years of Daily Walking

I Think the Habit is Here to Stay

The pre-COVID year of 2019 was a year of too much work and travel for a guy my age.  My weight crept up several pounds over the year.  Things settled down in early December, and I began to reflect on the need for significant change in my daily life.  I’ve always walked a good bit and played handball, pickleball, or some active sport.  However, the regularity with which I was involved in daily activities left much to be desired.  The result of a short period of reflection was that I needed to be both intentional and regular in my exercise and to exercise a bit more discipline on the side of moderation in terms of consumption of food and drink.

I started walking with intentionality on December 15, 2019 with a goal of reaching at least 10,000 steps per day.  A bit later, I revised the goal to five miles minimum, which is about 10,500 steps.  I started this post on December 16th, or two years after committing to start a longer-term program.  This walking program seems to be working.  Two years marked 731 days with a leap year in 2020, and a few days since then.  I’ve missed the minimum five-mile mark only five days in that time.

Regular readers of this blog and its republications on LinkedIn, know that I’ve written many blogs about health and fitness over the years, a number of which focus on walking.  If you want to skip a short walk down memory lane, scroll down past the bullet points and numbers to the next header.

Memory Land

  • 50 Consecutive Days  >>Read
  • 60 Consecutive Days >>Read
  • 100 Consecutive Days >>Read
    • This post was written March 23, 2020, or just weeks into the rising exposure of COVID-19 and a week or so after the declaration of the pandemic.
  • 150 Consecutive Days >> Read
  • 200 Consecutive Days >> Read
    • In this post, I referred to weather, will and the pandemic.
  • 250 Consecutive days and 183 since the declaration of the pandemic >> Read
  • 407 Consecutive Days >>Read
    •  In this post, I provided a list of things regarding the walking string to that point:
    1. It makes me feel good to know I’m doing something positive for my health.
    2. I do enjoy the benefits of being in better shape now than at the beginning of the walking string on December 15, 2019.
    3. I appreciate that I’ve encouraged a number of friends and acquaintances to begin their own daily walking routines.
    4. The weight loss of 13-14 pounds has been encouraging and, I hope, good for overall health.
    5. The focus on health has helped me choose a more balanced diet and to watch caloric intake. Not eating out for months also helped, I’m sure.  I instituted my “one plate per meal rule” early during the pandemic.
    6. Thinking about walking is just something that I do.  When I wake up each morning, I check the weather and think about my schedule and what I will have to do each day.  Sometimes that is a three-mile walk before breakfast.  That is a very good way to start a day! A few times it has been a four mile walk at the end of the day.  Every day though, I try to focus on being sure that I get up and about and move throughout the day.
    7. Gratitude is what I feel for avoiding a string-ending injury or illness.
    8. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to play a good bit of pickleball, weather and location permitting.  And I plan to play more, as much as I can, in the future.
    9. We are 317 days into the WFH era.  I can say that walking has certainly helped me maintain a healthy mental attitude during this unprecedented time we are in.
    10. I’m also grateful to be able to share this story on my blog and on LinkedIn.  I hope it encourages others to begin to focus on the simple act of walking regularly.
    11. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to walk my miles/steps tomorrow.  I have not placed any pressure on myself to keep this thing going (well, maybe a little bit!), but I certainly want to keep it up as my health and circumstances permit.
  • 450 Consecutive Days >>Read
    • In this post, I asked four questions I have had been asked and was thinking about. I tried to address the questions in light of my walking experiences.
    1. Why should anyone walk?
    2. What does it take?
    3. What are some strategies to keep walking?
    4. Is a walking program right for you?
  • 500 Consecutive Days >>Read
    • At 481 days my streak had ended due to a mild pull in my groin muscles.  I took four days off and jumped back on the walking habit.  I pointed out in that post that, at least to me, the habit was more important than any streak.
  • 215 Consecutive Days >>Read
    • 215 days of consecutive walking following the 500-day post.  I reported that my resurrected streak had ended on October 15, 2021 when I took what I can only describe as a “mental health day.”

Things Cumulate

If one walks consistently, steps turn into miles, and miles turn into many miles over time.  Over the last two years (plus a couple of days now), I’ve walked 4,552 miles per my trusty Fitbit Sense wonder watch. That mileage accrued at an average of 6.2 miles per day, including my five days of shortfall. And yes, I have a spreadsheet where I’ve written down both mileage and steps over this entire period.

I started with a goal of walking 10,000 or more steps per day but revised that to a goal of 5.0 miles per day at a minimum, or about 10,500 steps per day.  My average steps for the two-year period is 13,108 per day.  And those steps cumulate to 9.6 million steps of recorded daily movement.

A Few Current Thoughts

December 15, 2021 marked the two-year anniversary of the beginning of my walking journey, or 731 days given the leap year of 2020.  I’ve missed five miles of movement or more on only five of those days.  I am grateful for the good luck that has enabled me to avoid other physical or mental issues and to keep walking.  So let me share a few short thoughts on two topics.  First, what does it take to develop a walking habit and to string a few or many consecutive days together?  Second, I’ll share a couple of “tricks of the trade” that have helped me achieve my daily walking goals.

What Does it Take?

In no particular order, the following thoughts come to mind as I am looking at the question of “What Does It Take?” to develop a walking habit.

  • Focus.  It takes a certain amount of focus on a daily basis to walk five miles or more every day.  If your goal is two miles, three miles, four miles, or whatever your goal might be, that’s fine.  It is better to start with a realistic goal for you rather than try to adopt someone else’s goal.
  • Awareness.  Simply put, you have to be aware that you have a walking or movement goal every day.  If you are not aware, days will slip by without reaching your goal.
  • Determination.  It takes a certain amount of determination to get up and move.  The urge to move does not seem to be uniformly spread out over every day for me.
  • Good attitude.  It helps to have a good attitude about health and life to achieve many goals, including movement goals.  Bad attitudes can overcome lots of focus, awareness, and determination.
  • Luck to have good physical and mental health.  One of the goals of walking, at least for me, is to maintain and improve fitness and health.  However, bad luck can stop any streak.  For example, a lady nearly ran over me on New Year’s Eve 2018 and did run over my right foot, breaking my big toe.  I can’t remember how long it was before I was able to walk for five miles, but I’m glad that hasn’t happened in the last two years.

Tricks of the Trade

Over the last two years, I’ve developed a few hacks to help reach each day’s minimum walking goal.  They may seem obvious, but they help maintain my focus, awareness, and determination to do so.

  • Wear a Fitbit Sense or the smartwatch of your choice.  Some people rely on the step counter on their phones.  My average daily steps when carrying my phone is about 7,200 per day.  All that means is that I don’t “wear” my phone all day long.  For example, I do not carry my phone when playing pickleball.
  • Park at a distance from building entrances.  Many people attempt to park as close to doors as possible.  Fight this instinct, and you will likely gain a few hundred extra steps per day.  This habit is particularly suited for visits to big box stores of any kind.  Develop the habit of thinking about how far from the door you can park rather than how close.
  • Walk a couple of miles before breakfast.  Most mornings, I wake up, stretch a bit, and then get ready to go outside (or inside to a treadmill in bad weather).  My typical walk is 2.5 miles.  By the time I get back home and move around getting ready – and walk to my car and more, I often have nearly three miles logged on my Fitbit Sense.  If I get that morning walk in, I’m well on my path to achieving my step/mileage goals.
  • Take a couple of 5-10 minute walks during the day.  Two ten-minute walks during the day under decent conditions will add about a mile to your total for the day.  I find these breaks are helpful and bring focus to my work upon returning.
  • Play pickleball or another sport of your choice.  I play pickleball three or four times per week.  When I am in Florida, I play virtually every morning.  Pickleball steps count and adds to fitness levels.  For me also, pickleball is a lot of fun.  Fun helps.

I walk because I enjoy the regular movement and the satisfaction it gives me, knowing I am doing something proactive each day to foster good health.

Thanks to all the folks who have reached out to me to offer support and encouragement.  And my hat goes off to the numerous folks who have told me that these blog posts have encouraged them to start their own walking programs.

Until next time we see each other on a track, a sidewalk, a pickleball court, or a valuation-related meeting, happy walking! Be well!

Chris

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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