I’ve decided to take a cross country walk. Well, so to speak. I’m trying to be better with weight loss and improving my overall health. To accomplish this, I’ve redoubled my efforts to get outside and walk.
Now January is not the typical New England month one would think is great for outdoor walking but it actually was. Due to unseasonably warmer weather and relatively little snow, walking outdoors has been surprisingly pleasant for this time of year. Funny… as I sit here writing this, the weather forecast in the background is predicting snow and sleet later this week. We’ll see what February holds.
In an earlier post this year, I wrote about gaining several unwanted pounds due to the holidays and my efforts to eliminate a couple of bad habits. I need to be truthful; it wasn’t the holidays. It was my bad habits. So far so good. Since posting, I haven’t had ice cream nor have I poured myself a glass of soda. Using $50 as a proxy for the monthly spend on those two items in December, Mrs. P2F and I have $50 more to donate to a worthy local cause this year.
Walking for better health
In combination to healthier food choices, walking is going to help me lose some weight. In addition to simply losing a couple unwanted pounds, walking has many benefits to better health. The Mayo Clinic lists the following:
For example, regular brisk walking can help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
The Harvard Medical School in the Harvard Health Publishing website writes:
Benefits of walking for your health
The cardiovascular benefits of walking are biologically plausible; like other forms of regular moderate exercise, walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress. And if cardiac protection and a lower death rate are not enough to get you moving, consider that walking and other moderate exercise programs also help protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.
The imbedded link above leads to another Harvard Health Publishing post titled 5 Surprising Benefits of Walking. It details these benefits:
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
2. It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.
3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
4. It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
5. It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
So there’s apparently plenty of great healthy benefits to walking. I like the second bullet and maybe that’s why I haven’t been as tempted to indulge in a bowl of ice cream!
To help me stay on track, I’ve been using my iPhone to track my steps each day. The Steps app is fantastic because of its simplicity. It quickly displays my total steps for the day for easy tracking. It also stores the history and can display it in weekly and monthly intervals. I like the weekly and now monthly because I can see progress from one week to the next. Sometimes I walk a little less on a particular day. Rather than getting bummed out at the end of that day, I focus on the week’s progress knowing that I can walk a bit more the next day to balance it out.
As I approached the end of January, I decided to add this to the blog. But what’s walking got to do with FIRE? Well for one, a healthier you will have much better chance to enjoy the wealth you’ve accumulated. Along the way to FI, I didn’t focus on my health as much as I should have. Now that I’m no longer sitting behind a desk for the majority of my days, I can dedicate more focus to becoming healthier.
Also posting this on the blog will help me be more accountable. I’ll want to show progress. If I post lackluster progress, I’ll feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad… I’m retired!
Going forward, on a monthly basis I’ll share my progress and show you how far I’ve walked during the month. To make it interesting, I’ll track my walking as if I’m going across the country. Since I live in New England, I’ll use Provincetown MA as my starting point. Provincetown is at the end of iconic Cape Cod.
Where am I going?
I have no idea where I’ll end up, but we’ll figure that out along the way each month. So, where did I walk to in January? Well, I logged in just under 143 miles for the month and that can get me into another state – Rhode Island. I swung around the Cape and headed to Providence. Once I arrived, I headed south toward Narragansett RI. Not bad for the first month. Provincetown MA to Narragansett RI. Not bad at all.
There you have it. I’m walking and I’m going to share my progress each month with you to keep myself accountable. Harvard Medical School says walking is helping curb my sweets cravings That in turn is helping me accumulate money to donate to a local charity. Sounds like a plan.
How about you? How do you stay motivated to accomplish your goals whatever they may be? Share your tips in the comments below.
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