By now, I hope you’ve all listened to, or intend to listen to, the Tim Ferriss podcast of an interview with our cult leader, Mr Money Moustache. You can tell (I thought) that common ground was sparse between them, as Ferriss has gone in writing about how early retirement would utterly bore him to death, but there were more than a few areas that they could agree upon.
If you’re a regular listener to this podcast (and can get past the first few minutes of annoying “infomercials”) you’ll know that Ferriss has a set list of questions that he likes to pose to most guests in order to stimulate some dialogue. One of the problems with this routine is that the guests now know the questions are coming and sometimes have pat answers prepared, or answers you suspect are somewhat less than genuine. Still, it’s better than “Loose Women” and generally speaking I like the approach.
One of the regular questions is “If you could erect a billboard for a month and write a message on it, what would it be?” and MMM’s answer struck a chord with me. He’d write “Just Walk”, which surprised me a bit because I’d have more expected “Just Bike” from him. But no, it was walking that triumphed for a variety of reasons that he and Ferriss went on to discuss.
I don’t want to regurgitate their praise for this simple activity but I agreed with just about all of it.I posted earlier this year about resolving to try and get a bit fitter but, in general, I can’t be arsed with serious exercise or the gym. I do enjoy walking, however, so about two weeks into January I resolved to try and hit a target of 10,000 steps a day on my Fitbit monitor. When you’re in an office almost five days a week, this takes a bit of effort – I know from experience that an average day, sitting at a desk, will result in me clocking up about 4,000 steps between breakfast and bed. Given I walk about 1,000 steps in ten minutes, I need to find an additional hour, most days, to achieve the target.
We all lead busy lives, or tell ourselves we do, but for me when it comes to exercise it’s just an eternal battle between discipline and distraction. I can find a hundred reasons not to exercise if I allow myself to, so I need to be firm with myself. I have to have a plan, or write a goal to commit to it. I can’t just vaguely tell myself I’ll get up half an hour early tomorrow and take a morning walk because, if I’m vague about it, I won’t.
And, in order to achieve my 10,000 steps, I do have to get up half an hour early and take a walk, because I’ve found with this base achieved then the rest of the day takes care of itself. Once I have the morning set done and dusted, I then tend to make sure I nip out for lunch and fit in a half hour or forty minutes at that point, and then, if necessary, pop out in the evening for a quick pint to the pub at the other end of the village to claim the rest. (No doubt this undos any calories burnt, but ye Gods, you have to live, don’t you?)
There’s other parts to the routine that I put in place to ensure that I get out the door in the morning. I have to have my gear ready and prepared for that 6am exit, including my iphone, headphones and downloaded podcasts preloaded in my jerkin pocket. If I have to end up looking for any of these items then it will throw me completely out of kilter. I also have an insulated mug sitting by the kettle so I can boil it up and then slurp a morning cuppa as I walk around the quiet village streets. Having an objective helps too, such as walking to a local shop (or BP petrol station for me) to buy a paper, a pint of milk or anything else that gives a “point” to the excursion. Actually, this really helped me at the start because I was quite self-conscious about aimlessly walking at that time of the morning. What did people think I was up to? A trainee Peeping Tom, clearly. I almost considered buying a dog.
In the same way they say “money goes to money” I’m finding “walking leads to walking”. It’s now my preferred way to go from A to B if it’s a feasible proposition. When I find myself frittering time away on an evening at a loose end, then I’ll don the headphones and head out for a stroll. I don’t mind what it’s like out, believing the Billy Connelly adage that there’s no wrong weather, just the wrong clothes.
There’s loads of side benefits too. I’m slowly losing weight despite sticking to three square meals a day. I’m sleeping like a log and the seeming lack of dreams probably signals that I’m not waking as often during the night. I’ve posted here the graph of my Fitbit’s tracking of my resting heart-rate since I began this campaign, an alleged indicator of improving fitness, although I was more interested to see the peaks inspired by Friday night visits to the pub (especially last Friday’s rather lengthy session!) You need a bit of excitement after all, and it’s the one downside of walking that I’ve discovered so far: my DOH tells me I’m turning into a walking bore.
8 thoughts on “Walk Like a Man”
I’ve been keeping pedometer records for years in a spreadsheet, it helps a lot. You can insert steps into your day by getting off the bus early, walking up and down platforms waiting for trains etc. I had a lot of fun playing Ingress (phone game, precursor to Pokemon Go) last year, as you got points visiting places and linking them up
Exercise works best for me as you describe above – if it has an objective, or if it fits seamlessly into my day, I actually almost enjoy it!
I walk in my neighborhood as well (we live in Nebraska, central USA). Without a dog, I was initially self-conscious but gradually got over it. As the saying goes, you wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think if you realized how little they did.
If you really want to see your resting heart rate drop, try shifting your diet toward a more plant-based one. I am now basically a once-a-month meat eater, no eggs, and a bit of cheese, and in two months my RHR is down 5 beats per minute (to 54/55 area). Blood pressure also down dramatically (I won’t quote more numbers as I am already boring myself) and am sure cholesterol must be as well. None of this due to additional exercise, just diet. I was inspired to make the diet changes by nutritionfacts dot org if anyone cares.
Thanks for your blog. I do enjoy your thoughtful posts and hearing about what is and isn’t working.
Thanks for the positive feedback Matt. I am interested in diet, but I’m more interested in food! I’m trying to get back into cooking from scratch and am always on the lookout for tasty, healthy and quick meals. Like walking, the more I do it, the more I find I want to do it.
I was already a walking addict of multi-decades vintage, but the combination of fitness trackers and the explosion of fabulous podcasts has turned me into a junkie. I easily manage 15-20,000 steps most days!
Of course I’m single, childless, and work from home. A harassed mother of three with a part-time job a 30-minute commute aways mileage may vary. (But then we know what MMM would say.)
On the other hand I’m also dog-less. They seem to be good for 5-10K a day!
Wow! That’s a lot of walking, but I suppose it’s a bit easier if you’re working from home. At work, I make sure I take my hour’s break at lunch, mostly just to get a walk and some fresh air. I am conscious that a lot of co-workers grab something to eat at their desks, snacking away while surfing Facebook or pretending to get on with work. Sometimes I feel a wee bit guilty about it, but these days my health takes priority over the job. If the work doesn’t like it, they know what they can do – or I know what I can do!
Thanks for pointing to the podcast. MMM (Pete) comes across as much more like a regular guy, not as ‘preachy’ as his persona on his website.
Thought I’d come back to this post, give the recent ‘hysteria’ in the popular press about the 10,000 steps being an arbitrary and pointless goal, with no evidence base as to its health benefits. Well, you’ve detailed the benefits yourself, eg losing weight, better sleep.
Surely the point of the 10k is that It’s just a goal to aim for – even I don’t need to be an expert to know that someone who attempts the steps is improving their health more than the person sat on their arse all day and does no other form of exercise.