President Harry Truman had a daily step goal. Long before any of us had a Fitbit strapped to our wrist, the president would leave the White House every morning at 7am and walk two miles at a pace of 120 steps per minute.
President Truman never walked alone. He always had Secret Service agents with him and members of the Press asking questions as they followed along.
Harry Truman learned the value of fitness as a young man when he served in the military. He began his daily morning walks when he arrived in Washington as a U.S. Senator from Missouri. Mr. Truman was then 47 years old.
After he left Washington, Harry Truman said those walks around DC each morning helped him stay fit and allowed him to think through the issues he would face in the Oval Office later that day.
I wonder if we overthink fitness. We have so many options. We also have so many experts saying different things about what we should and should not do. It’s confusing and I think that makes fitness feel harder than it actually is.
President Truman didn’t overthink fitness. He simply found an activity he enjoyed that was sustainable and effective. That doesn’t mean it was always easy. I’m sure there were some mornings when he would have rather slept a little longer. Plus, he wore a suit and dress shoes on his walks. That couldn’t have been too comfortable.
I enjoy walking. I’m guessing President Truman felt the same way. He continued his daily walk even while he was on vacation in Key Largo, Florida. A log of his activities indicates he would begin at 7:30am. He gave himself an extra 30 minutes of sleep on vacation.
That’s really a great filter of whether your fitness activity is something you truly enjoy. If vacation feels like an opportunity to take a break, then it’s likely something you don’t really like to do. And, if you really don’t enjoy it will you keep doing it?
Harry Truman did. Long after he was no longer president he continued his daily walks. Citizens of Independence, Missouri got used to seeing Mr. Truman out every morning. As he got older his pace slowed and the distance got a bit shorter, but he kept going.
In fact, if you visit Independence you can enjoy the Harry S. Truman Walking Trail. It’s a 2.7 mile trail with 43 markers embedded in the sidewalks. Those plaques tell the story of President Truman’s life as well as mark the route.
Until recently, most of our presidents did not reach old age. Many of them died shortly after leaving office. Considering the stress of the job, that’s not very surprising. Harry Truman was different. He lived almost 20 years after he left the presidency and died at 88 years old.
Our more recent presidents are also living longer because most of them made fitness an intentional part of their lives while in office.
I wonder if Harry Truman set the example for them. He found a fitness activity he enjoyed even while president. It was sustainable well into his old age. And it was effective.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
If you don’t have a daily step goal, I want to challenge you to give it a try and create a fitness habit. I call it The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. This free guide will walk you through how to get started. It’s very easy.
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 links in this article to make a purchase 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)
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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