I could feel the stress melting away. It was the first day of our Fall Fundraiser and it wasn’t going well. My radio station is partly supported by listener donations. We do two fundraisers each year and need both to be successful to remain fully funded.
I’m in charge of planning and directing each fundraiser and we weren’t off to a good start. Part of my role during the four day event is also being on the air…six hours in the morning, five more in the afternoon with a three hour “break” in the middle.
During that break I left the station to take a 30-minute walk through the business park next to the station. It was sunny and hot and the view was a bunch of loading docks, but it was the best part of the day. I could feel calm replacing stress.
Walking is a perfect fitness activity. Just about anybody can do it. It’s sustainable, flexible, fun, and effective. It’s also a crock pot. It takes time to build fitness.
But, walking is a microwave for stress. I can feel the change as soon as I start moving. It’s pretty well documented that “exercise” is a powerful stress reducer. It releases endorphins which chemically make me feel better.
My daily fitness goal is to walk at least 20,000 steps. There’s no way for me to do that without at least one longer walk of 30 minutes or more. I’m grateful for that. It provides a natural built-in stress reducer every day.
I regret I didn’t do this when our children were younger. We had six kids and I was overwhelmed at times. Having a daily 30 minute walk built into my schedule would have been a game changer.
In addition to the science connecting physical activity and stress reduction there are a couple other factors that I know matter, to at least me.
Going for a walk usually provides physical separation between me and what’s causing the stress. For example, going for that walk during our Fundraiser allowed me to “get away” for 30 minutes. If I had gone for regular walks while the kids were growing up that would have provided the same thing.
I’m an introvert so going for a walk is also an opportunity to recharge. The difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts need alone time to recharge while extroverts get their energy being around other people.
Of course life doesn’t always organize itself so neatly. Sometimes even when you “get away” the stress is still there. In other words, you can’t put space between you and the issue.
Last year my wife, Ava, had surgery and radiation for breast cancer. She’s also has to take a hormone therapy drug for five years. In September she had her one year check-up. That’s when things got “interesting” again.
She went in for a mammogram which was quickly followed by an ultrasound. Something didn’t look right so the doctor ordered a biopsy.
Cancer is a hideous disease. Even successful treatment has consequences you can’t fully understand until you’re in it. And, then there’s the waiting. Those handful of days between, “You need a biopsy” and the results are not easy.
Ava and I were in this waiting space six days. This was stress that couldn’t be escaped. I think I felt it more than Ava. She’s a rock star. I’m more of a roadie.
Those daily walks while we were waiting were an oasis. I was able to think and pray through the situation. The nervous tension I was physically feeling disappeared as I walked. Ava went with me a couple times and we talked about different scenarios depending on the biopsy results.
On the afternoon of Day Six we got the news that everything was OK. The suspicious mass was benign.
Walking is a great fitness activity, but it might be an even better stress reducer. I can’t imagine how life would feel if I didn’t make time for a longer walk each day.
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Walking is fitness hiding in plain sight. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set the perfect Fitbit goal for you. The Challenge includes a contract you can make with yourself. That might sound cheesy, but having a signed piece of paper is a powerful motivator on those days when you just don’t feel like it.
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If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the link above to but a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.
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