Last month, I started a "conversation" here about wellness -- and specifically about fitness, and especially as we age. Based on your comments, I'd say we all pretty much fall into one of two camps:
(1) those of us who have discovered strategies to make fitness a part of our lives, and
(2) those of us who would like to.
I thought it might be helpful to have some of the folks in the first camp . . . share their fitness and workout strategies with those in the second camp. And I decided to start with . . . my sister, Diane.
Di works full time in a busy office. She is super active outside of her job with a civic organization, her church, a bell choir, her friends. She is an avid symphony-goer, attends concerts and plays as often as possible, fits in her hobbies . . . AND . . . finds time to walk between 4-5 miles each day.
As in EVERY day. Mostly outside. In all seasons. And she lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming where the weather is not always (or even usually) . . . pleasant.
And she's been walking this way . . . for DECADES. Like. . . since the mid-1980s. She walked through bad boyfriends. She walked through moves and new jobs. She walked through pregnancy. She walked through health issues. She walked through a significant weight loss. She walked through happiness and frustration and heartache. She just . . . walks every day!
Di gets up early every morning, and after a cup of coffee, she puts on her shoes (or spike-y snow boots, depending on the weather) and hits the road. She walks about 3 miles through her neighborhood every day before work (she has 3 regular "routes" to choose from). When the weather is bad enough, she walks inside on her treadmill (she does have her limits) (for example, she won't walk outside if the "feels like" temperature is below 10oF). But she really prefers walking outside -- fresh air, things to look at. (True confession: She finds the "dreadmill" boring.)
Then, during her work day, she takes another half-hour walk as a break, where she clocks another mile or two!
Although she occasionally listens to music, she usually just walks in silence. In the morning, it's a great way for her to meditate and think and center herself for the day. During the day ("second walk"), she can walk out some of the frustration of her workday -- or have some time for a bit of problem solving. And, if she's quiet and paying attention, she often sees interesting things (yesterday it was a bunch of antelope walking down the road, and a duck herding her babies across the street).
I asked her if she gets bored . . . with the same fitness routine every day . . . for all those decades. Nope, she said. Sometimes she has a "here-we-go-again" moment as she steps out the door, but she's never bored once she gets started. She also claims to never have any problem getting out the door for her walk. (If you're familiar with Gretchen Rubin's "Four Tendencies," my sister is an Upholder. Like . . . maybe the Poster Child of Upholders. Doing-what-she-sets-out-to-do is never a problem for her. Never.) (Just sayin.)
What's Di like best about walking everyday? For her, the exercise mixed with quiet contemplation brings peace and centering to her days. Plus, she really likes getting up and out and finished with her walk before the day even starts! She chooses to walk alone -- because then she can do it on her own time schedule. (Not many people are willing to walk with her at 5:00 am.) Plus, that quiet time on her own is something she craves. Basically, Di likes walking because it's simple to do, doesn't require special equipment - except shoes, can be done anywhere/anytime, and you don't sweat (except on really hot days).
Her advice for others wanting to start a walking routine:
- Figure out what works best for you. What time of day? Do you want to walk alone or with someone else? What route(s) can you take easily -- right from your front door or workplace?
- Invest in some comfortable walking shoes.
- Be prepared to head out in a variety of weather conditions. Dress for the weather. Carry a flashlight if it's dark; an umbrella if it looks like rain. And your phone. Know your route. If you're going to walk from work, keep a spare pair of shoes and appropriate layers in your office/car so you're always ready to go (even if you forget your stuff or the weather conditions change).
- Make a commitment to yourself -- then keep it. Consistency brings results. (Upholder.) (Like I said.)
- Have a plan for what you'll do when the weather keeps you inside. (Di has a treadmill at home. She also recommends the Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home workouts for when you're stuck inside.)
- Even a daily 15-minute walk is better than not walking at all! Just get out there and take those steps!
What do you think? Are you interested in starting a walking routine? And if you already have one, what advice might you add?
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