Walk More: What My 30-day Challenge Taught Me
After working from home for a few years I’ve become extremely sedentary. Using the Google Fit app I started tracking my steps. And I was surprised to see how many days I didn’t get much past one thousand steps—let alone to the recommended ten thousand!
In an effort to Move More and Sit LessI decided to challenge myself to take a walk every day for a month.
How hard could walking everyday be?
When I worked in an office building downtown several short walks were built into my day. In the morning I walked a few blocks from the parking garage to my office and back in the evening. During lunch, I would go down to the street and walk a couple more blocks to get something to eat. On particularly sunny days or when I just needed to clear my head I’d walk around the block a few times, taking in the fresh air and appreciating the green spaces and water features that dotted my work neighborhood.
Surely, I could manage a walk each day now that I’m working from home.
Since I was focusing on starting and not optimizing I kept my objective simple. “Go for a walk every day,” I told myself. I would count everything, regardless of how long I walked or far I traveled. All I had to do was get out the front door for it to count. I would build up my steps later.
Working at home is different from working in an office. Everything I need and do on a daily basis is contained within a couple thousand square feet. Everyone I talk to is online or on the phone, so no need to get up and go see them. My workday is contained in a much smaller space.
So I challenged myself to get out the door and go for a walk—every day.
At the end of the month I tallied up 19 walks over 30 days.
A feeling of failure
At first I was satisfied with the result. That was 19 more walks than I would have taken otherwise.
But on reflection, I felt disappointment. I felt like I had failed.
After 19 walks I didn’t feel any better physically than when I had started this challenge. My body still felt stiff. I couldn’t say I had built any stamina or strength. Even though my blood glucose numbers seemed to be a little lower after I walked, I couldn’t say I’d made any lasting improvements to my state of health.
I hadn’t experienced any of the promised benefits of exercise. At this rate, would I ever?
Well, I wasn’t ready to give up on the tiny habit approach. I still have enough years ahead of me that improving my fitness is worthwhile. I still believe in the promise that more physical exercise will lead to better health.
What should I do next?
I listened again to the TED Talk by BJ Fogg, a behavioral scientist who teaches at Stanford University. He argues that to make big, lasting change in your life start a very small habit.
Start with a tiny habit. He has a recipe for doing this and claims he’s helped more than 40,000 people successfully take on tiny habits to make big changes in their lives.
BJ Fogg used this approach to work up to doing 60+ push ups each day as part of his normal routine. His recipe is this: After going pee, do X push ups. He started with two push ups and over time added more. Now he does eight or more push ups each time, adding up to over 60 push ups each day.
Could I do something similar and be successful at moving more? Could I start with something small (smaller than “Go for a walk”) and get to a big change?
I need to change my recipe.
Has diabetes changed your exercise routine?