Dade City, Florida. Delta City, Mississippi. Salem, Virginia. Louisville, Kentucky. These cities are all approximately 425 miles from Atlanta. That equates to roughly 1 million steps. I learned that recently. I’ve also learned a lot about myself this summer.
It began June 1. That was the day the JS Wellness team handed out pedometers to all employees and announced the JS Step Up Challenge. The challenge, we were told, would run from June through August. We would all have access to a website to log our daily steps and view a leader board to see the top 20. Awards would be given at various stages and Bronze, Silver and Gold levels would be established.
I generally dislike group fitness classes and my hand-eye coordination is practically non-existent. So I’m not the type to seek out a softball or disk golf team. But walking I can do. My husband and I have always enjoyed long hikes on the weekends. But I knew my usual weekend hikes wouldn’t be enough to keep me competitive in the challenge.
I had to find ways to walk more during the week and increase the weekend walking. Here are the few of the things I’ve done to “step up”:
- The obvious place to start was the stairs. Twice a year, during fire drills, I considered getting more exercise by regularly walking down the stairs to the lobby rather than taking the elevator. Each time that thought vanished the moment I stepped into the lobby and re-appeared only at the next fire drill. I decided this was a good time to finally put that plan into action. Mercifully, stairwell doors are locked from the outside so there isn’t the option to walk up the stairs. But walking down to the lobby is now second nature.
- I began to participate in 5Ks. It’s not necessary to be an accomplished runner to participate in a 5K. There are many walkers doing 5Ks. I found and participated in several 5Ks that benefitted causes close to my heart such as Atlanta Children’s Shelter and Canine Assistants. I joined fellow JSers in the Color Run where we started the race in white and ended the race wearing a wonderful myriad of colors. I completed my first Peachtree Road Race.
- I’ve enjoyed finding ways to increase my stepping but also discovered the benefits extend far beyond the pedometer on my hip. Friends, family, co-workers and even old classmates I’ve reconnected with on Facebook tell me I have inspired them. My husband now has a pedometer. “How was your day?” has been replaced with “How many steps do you have?” My sister bought a pedometer and calls to tell me about a long walk she took and how many steps it netted.
- There’s the occasional email circulated around the office that reads “Anyone up for a lunchtime walk?” This challenge has encouraged impromptu walks to the bank, to Publix, or exploring Midtown with coworkers who I don’t normally get to spend time with.
- When walking alone I like to listen to audio books. As a result, in addition to the health benefits, my list of completed books has grown.
- I am determined to be at or near the top of the leader board when this challenge ends September 1st. But even if Brian or Roz or another of my fiercely competitive co-workers ends up ahead of me at the end, the journey this summer has been fun and enlightening.
My personal goal is to complete one million steps during the course of this challenge. That’s a figurative trip to Dade City, Delta City, Salem or Louisville. I plan to continue finding new ways to increase my stepping after the summer challenge ends.
Join me. It’s easy. Get up and walk around the block. Skip the elevator and find the stairs. Try a 5K. You’ll discover there’s a 5K or 1 mile Fun Run within the Metro Atlanta area nearly every weekend. Research your favorite cause. They likely benefit from the proceeds of a 5K at least once a year. Register and walk it. You’ll feel great.
Have a Wii? Wii Fit Plus has “Free Step” that allows you to watch TV as you do step aerobics. Watch your favorite TV program while racking up 2,000 steps. Take an extra walk to the mailbox or a quick walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Park further out in the parking lot at the grocery store then walk the cart back to the store after loading your groceries.
You’ll soon discover the benefits of doing it outweigh the excuses not to.
Mary has been a part of the JS accounting team since 2007.