I walk 20,000 steps every day which is about ten miles.
Walking 20,000 steps takes me three hours and 20 minutes. That may sound like a lot, but consider even with all that, I’m still either sitting or laying down more than 21 hours a day.
20,000 steps has been my daily goal for more than two years. Between 9/1/18 thru 8/31/19 I made this goal a public challenge and posted a daily update of my progress. The year I did The 20k One Year Step Challenge included my wife’s diagnosis and battle with breast cancer, the death of a close family member, vacations, the final year of high school for our youngest daughter, her learning how to drive, lots of bad weather, and some really LONG days at work. You can see those posts HERE.
Why do I walk 20,000 steps a day? I’ve written about this a lot, but here’s a recap of the nine biggest reasons I do this…and, more importantly why I encourage you to set your own personal step goal.
Walking is fitness hiding in plain sight. I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible to see this. Your fitness journey doesn’t have to be complicated and agonizing. Walking has been my fitness foundation since January 2013.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. If you take a 30 minute walk and get about 3,000 steps that’s a moderate pace. If you do that every day you finish the week with 210 minutes and a CDC smile.
As I get older, good health becomes even more important to me. My fitness activities are a big part of that. My annual physicals keep indicating all systems are operating well as I just turned 60.
Walking for fitness is a crock pot…not a microwave. The health benefits I’m enjoying today are not the result of yesterday’s walk. I’ve been on an intentional fitness journey for 12 years. The good health I have today is because the 48-year old me made the commitment to start moving more.
The 20,000 steps I get today are for the future me. This might actually be the most compelling and motivating reason for me to walk as much as I do. I want the 80-year old Dave to be grateful because the 60-year old Dave kept the commitment made by the 48-year old Dave.
I THINK BETTER
I do a lot of thinking. My job in radio requires I think fast when the microphone is open. I’m part of a two person morning show and a lot of what we do is improvised and I can’t be slow on the uptake. I also need to find different ways to say the same thing all morning long with news, traffic and weather reports. I’m also responsible for the on-going planning and strategy for our on-air fundraising.
Away from work I write these weekly blog posts and have normal life stuff that requires short and long-term planning. I’ve discovered my thinking is clearer and more creative when I’m walking. Literally. If I need to find a solution I know the best thing I can do is go for a walk. I always finish with several ideas to choose from.
Obviously, I can’t walk ALL THE TIME, but I’m pretty convinced that 20,000 steps a day makes me a better thinker even when I’m not moving. And, there’s been research backing this up. In fact, recent studies indicating that one of the best things you can do for brain health as you get older is physical activity.
I CALM DOWN
About a week before Christmas I found an income tax calculator online and for fun I punched in some numbers to get a rough idea of what our tax picture would look like before the final version of the tax software was released.
I hit CALCULATE and couldn’t believe what I was looking at. The number on the screen was $12,000. Except that was not a refund. That’s what I would owe in addition to what was withheld! I panicked!
I also got up and started walking around our basement.
That’s what I do when I feel stress or anxiety. I get up and walk. I do it now without even thinking. After a few minutes of moving I began to feel calm and started to put together a plan.
Walking with prayer supersizes the calming effect for me. I know that I don’t have to feel stress and anxiety when life gets complicated…as it does every day.
I FEEL BETTER
Truthfully, there are some days when I’m not thrilled with my commitment to walk 20,000 steps. There are days when I’d rather sit. I had one of those days yesterday. I didn’t really care about my future health. I wasn’t feeling stressed and I didn’t need to solve any big problems. The weather was not ideal and all I wanted to do was sit.
But, I didn’t. And, you know what. Getting up and walking, even though I didn’t want to, made me feel better. It was exactly what I needed to get beyond my lethargy.
IT FORCES MARGIN
I don’t do well with an overloaded schedule. If I have a day that is filled with activities and commitments I’m not pleasant to be around. I need margin in my schedule. One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is that I can control my schedule. I’m not a victim anymore.
The word NO is valuable and I’m getting better at using this tool to build and protect margin in my schedule.
Because I’m committed to walking 20,000 steps every day I need to be intentional about creating the time and space to reach this goal. And…making sure I have time to walk is also an investment in other people. I’m a better version of me when I have enough margin in my day.
MAKES WATCHING TV MORE SPECIAL
I love it when I discover a new TV series. My all-time favorites include, “West Wing”, “The Crown”, “House of Cards”, “For All Mankind”, and “Billions”. I especially love it when I find the series after it’s been out several seasons. That way, I’ve got hours and hours of viewing pleasure in front of me.
I feel the tug to do all that watching at once, but I can’t.
Instead of binge watching I use whatever series I’m loving at the moment as my reward for hitting 20k on my Fitbit. And, because that doesn’t leave me with a ton of time it stretches out how long it takes to watch everything. I recently re-watched “West Wing” and it lasted for months and months. That was so awesome!
I LIKE THE CHALLENGE
Before my 20k One Year Step Challenge ended, I considered changing my goal after I reached the finish line. I was really intrigued with making it an AVERAGE of 20,000 steps a day. That would give me some flexibility on days that were harder and if I got a bunch of extra steps I could even take “a day off” every now and then.
I seriously thought about it, but I couldn’t do it. I realized I truly like the challenge of reaching 20,000 steps EVERY DAY. It never happens by accident. Oh sure, some days are easier than others, but even those days require intentionality.
I believe this daily challenge keeps me sharp. It keeps me focused. It keeps me moving. I didn’t want to lose that. This daily challenge makes life more interesting and gives me a real sense of accomplishment when my Fitbit HR vibrates signaling 20,000 steps
I was in New York on a business trip. My hotel was near the Empire State Building. I had to meet the rest of the group in lower Manhattan for dinner. Since it was early in the afternoon, I had a few hours to myself.
I decided to take a long walk…from my hotel to lower Manhattan. This was a stretch of New York I’d never seen before because I would always take the subway. This time I had a perfect opportunity to explore.
And, I loved it!
Of, course I don’t get to do that every day. But, I can still find the fun…even on a cold and wet day. For example, when I’m making my famous spaghetti (famous in my family!) I’ll walk around the kitchen island waiting for the water to boil. I’ve got Alexa playing my favorite songs and it becomes a magical moment for me. Way more fun than just standing around or sitting as I wait.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
20,000 steps is MY goal. It’s what makes me happy. But, I don’t ever want anyone to feel like their goal isn’t big enough. I didn’t start at 20,000. It took me a long time of incrementally increasing my goal.
And, you know what? I have no plans to add to it even though I’m aware of others who walk a lot more than I do.
The bottom line is you find the goal that works for YOU. Fitness is a long game and walking is perfect for that whether your daily goal is 3,000 steps, 7,500 steps, 10,000 steps or more.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
If you’re just getting started, I want to recommend a 30 Day Fitness Challenge. Most fitness goals end in failure because they start way too big. Setting the right goal to get started is critical!
This free guide will help you do that. It also includes a contract you sign to keep your daily commitment. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it can be just the motivation you need on a day where keeping your fitness commitment feels too hard.
Every day you reach your goal is a WIN. This guide also includes a a 30 Day Tracker to help you celebrate each of those wins. It’ll feel really good as you track these. But, more importantly it’ll help you build fitness momentum that will last.
You can get started today with The 30 Day Fitness Challenge.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that most people who set a fitness goal don’t finish. The first 30 days are the most critical!
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. While it’s not cheap, it’s less than a few months at the gym. 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.
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