Yesterday, after sleeping in quite late, one of the first things I did was lace up my “serious shoes” and head out for a walk. And it occurred to me that in the last few months, my 10,000 steps – particularly my weekend walks around the neighborhood – have become as vital to my life as air and water.
If you read this blog, you’re probably familiar with 10,000 steps, a rough equivalent to the Surgeon General’s recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. I’ve long set 10,000 steps as a daily goal, and track it with my Fit Bit Flex, but often fall short. The last few weeks, though, I’ve re-committed myself to that daily total to help me meet a December 31 weight loss goal.
During the week, I generally get half of my steps during the work day, the rest at the gym. On weekends, I try to get outside, and have started talking long walks around the neighborhood to get those 10,000 steps.
Generally, I lace up my shoes, rev up Spotify, turn on the MapMyFitness app on my phone and just go. The first time, I took a familiar route, but then started to mix it up. My only “standard” outdoor walks are to Trenholm Plaza to meet my friend Dolly for breakfast and/or Trader Joe’s for flowers and treats. Otherwise, I follow my feet where they take me.
Here are some observations about my neighborhood walks:
- Outdoor walks are a great way to be in the present. It’s so easy to get caught up in the worries of the work week, but when you’re walking outside, it’s hard for your mind to wander too far. For one thing, you have to pay attention to where you’re going and the cars around you. There are also so many people and curious things to see.
- When you walk outside, you notice the small things that generally escape you. In your car, you miss a lot. But walking, you notice things you’ve never seen before, like cats in windows and bird nests in trees. You see people, and have a chance to greet neighbors. You notice the subtle beautiful autumn leaves, followed by leaf piles at the road and pumpkins being replaced with Christmas lights.
- You can expand your activity beyond your walk by scoping the scenery for workout equipment, including, stairs to sprint, benches for crunches and pushups, etc. I often jog the intersections or do walking lunges in between empty parking spaces. Google urban fitness or urban workout for other potential props.
- There are lots of great amenities. Toward the end of my walk, I love to stop at a local park to swing and/or play on some equipment! If I find myself close to Trenholm Plaza, I may stop to see a friend or do some window shopping. If I see a beautiful flower or quirky lawn ornament, I snap a picture with my phone and upload it to Instagram. (I took the pictures in this post during afternoon walks around Forest Acres.)
While the weekend walks are great, the 10,000 step goal is a huge motivator, no matter where you get the steps. The goal forces you to take the long way, step out of your comfort zone and be creative. And the extra physical activity is great for stress relief. Perhaps it’s the endorphins, but truly, my steps soothe my soul.