As a health educator, I have tried to “practice what I preach”. For the most part, I have done a pretty decent job. Until this past year I really wasn’t practicing what I preach from an exercise standpoint. I have been recommending walking as a form of exercising for as long as I have worked here and as you know, that has been a very long time. As an ex athlete, walking seemed kind of wimpy to me. Walking was good enough for most but I thought I needed to jog. I complemented my jogging by playing basketball twice a week, and while the quality of play wasn’t all that high, the intensity of the games was. Between jogging and playing basketball a couple times I week, I stayed in pretty good shape.
I decided to retire from basketball a few years ago after an orthoscopic knee surgery, but continued trying to jog weekly. Unfortunately jogging irritated my knee, and frankly, I finally figured out that really didn’t like it. I found myself jogging less and less. As a consequence my fitness level began to deteriorate. I finally came to the realization that consistent and moderate exercise would be better than inconsistent vigorous exercise. On November 30th 2012, I started my walking program. I remember the exact day because that was the day I bought my first fitbit. I have walked virtually every day since then, and have taken over 5.2 million steps since that day. At first I still felt a little guilty, although I was walking briskly, I was coming back from my walks without knee pain and I actually felt invigorated rather fatigued. I had to convince myself that this level of exercise really was good for me. I watched a brilliant YouTube video called 23 and ½ hours, that makes a compelling case for the health benefits of walking 30 minutes a day. If you haven’t seen it, check it out:
As the video points out, walking regularly is powerful preventive medicine. I was looking forward to getting home and walking rather than dreading having to go out and run. The fitbit was a great motivational tool as well. I really responded to the immediate feedback that it provided. In additional to my planned brisk walk each day after work, I started looking for opportunities to accumulate a few more steps, a short walk at lunch, taking Lucy our dog for an extra walk. A few minutes of walking here and there really does begin to add up. My motivation to accumulate steps got another boost when I joined a fitbit group. When you are in a fitbit group you can see how many steps that the other members of the group are taking. That tapped into my competitive nature and one again I found myself looking for opportunities to take a few more steps, especially if it looked like one of the other group members might beat my weekly totals (which rarely happened). Several other members of the H3 team were in the group as well and we all felt that being in it was fun and motivating. Based on this positive experience, H3 will soon give those of you who have a fitbit, the opportunity to be a part of a group. We will let you know when the group becomes available.
The bottom line is that after many years of encouraging other people to walk, I am finally following my own advice. In fact, as I am finishing this blog it happens to be lunch time and I am just about to head out the door for a quick walk before I enjoy H3’s super salad bar.