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Walking Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the Wellness Team at my company titled “Walking Challenge”. Given how much I walk, I was intrigued. They’re challenging people to do more walking and activity for 6 weeks, with prizes for people in first, second and third place. To facilitate that, they gave us all pedometers, as well as getting things set up on the American Heart Association’s website.

My competitive nature, usually dormant, roused a bit at seeing that. After all, I already walk quite a bit. How hard could it be to win this? I knew that I did a lot more than most of the people in my office, although I did wonder about one man who walks to the gym every day (a mile each way) and works out for an hour. But I was the only one I knew of who walked to work. As for my co-workers in California, it seemed that many of them spent most of their free time commuting to the office by car, not out walking or getting other forms of activity.

I was also curious to see how many steps I got since I was vaguely familiar with the Even though we weren’t doing that specifically, I wanted to see if I was meeting that goal, which is recommended for better general health and longer life.

When I started using the pedometer, I was surprised to learn how much walking it took to achieve 10,000 steps - about five miles. Admittedly other activities count, such as swimming, yoga, weightlifting, etc., and the greater the intensity, the more steps you get. I realized that despite what I considered a pretty good activity level, some days I had to get creative to get in all those steps.

For instance, I discovered a while back that my kitchen counter is a perfect ergonomic height to use with my laptop. So now, while I’m checking and answering e-mail, I mostly do it there and do some stepping in place. Similarly, when doing dishes, I move around a little more.

Happily for me that was about all it took to get me up to the amount, since I already was exercising every morning for about 40 minutes, often taking a 10-15 minute walk during lunch, and getting a built-in 1,700 steps during the work week by going to and from the bus stop. In fact, I was often getting closer to 11-12,000 steps. I was feeling good and perhaps even a little smug.

Then after the first week they announced the top five - and I wasn’t in it. The person currently in first place seemed incredibly to be getting something like 13 miles in per day! It occurred to me that she might be a runner, which gets you a lot more points than just walking.

That’s when I decided that, competitive or not, I wasn’t going to kill myself to try to win this. After all, I was doing quite a bit, and I found out later that I’m 8th out of 65, which is quite respectable. But it’s been an interesting process to realize how much I’ve been obsessed with trying to meet the numbers. I’ll keep that up for the last month or so of the challenge, but after that, I’ll go back to focusing on how I feel. I already know that getting plenty of exercise does make me feel better, so it’s something I intend to keep up - and I suppose that’s the real point of the challenge, in which case I’ve already won.

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