Has 20,000 Steps a Day Changed My Health?

Mandy wants to know what health benefits I’ve noticed since starting my 20k One Year Step Challenge. It began on September 1, 2018 and the goal is at least 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. I just wrapped up Week 35 and I’m still on track. I’ve been posting a daily update (HERE) and Mandy recently left me that question…what health benefits have I noticed since starting? Here’s the answer…

None.

Does that surprise you? Of course it does! Especially since I’ve been writing about those benefits every week.

Before I explain, Let me mention the other benefits I’ve noticed since I started this Challenge. 

The Impact of Commitment

Just last week I went for a 35 minute walk and my Fitbit died. It was not a Fitbit issue, but a Dave problem. I tried giving it a quick charge before walking. I was impatient and should have let it sit in the charging dock longer. Anyhow, it died again while I was walking and I lost about 3500 steps.

The rule is if the steps aren’t on the Fitbit they don’t count towards the Challenge. The rest of the day was rainy and chilly and there was no part of me that was going outside again. So…I was faced with a LOT of walking around my kitchen to reach 20,000 steps.

Here’s the thing. I never, for a moment, considered not reaching my goal. I didn’t even internally whine about it. There were some early days in the 20k Challenge where I did grumble, “Why am I doing this?!!”

But, no more. I’m convinced that when we make a commitment and determine to stick with it no matter the cost our attitude changes. At least, that’s a benefit I’ve noticed since starting this 20k Challenge.

Improved Mood

I’m not a fan of winter…or cloudy days…or days when it rains a lot. I haven’t always been like that. I’m not sure when this shift happened, but it has. That makes winter hard for me. Spring too. March and April in Maryland can be beautiful, but more often than not it’s cloudy, chilly, rainy and windy. The first few months on the calendar are not my Happy Season.

This year was different. Oh sure, there were still days where I would’ve pushed the fast-forward button on the Remote of Life to skip past the gray, wet, and windy weather, but not nearly as often as before.

Research bears this out. Exercise can help lighten your mood. Thing is…I was not more active this winter than the past few, but I believe the 20k Challenge gave me something else to focus on when the weather sucked.

Greater Clarity

This might have been the most noticeable benefit since starting the 20k Challenge. A few days after announcing on Facebook what I was doing, my wife discovered a small lump. After many biopsies and scans there was a diagnosis. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.

Breast cancer.

Ava underwent surgery in October followed by radiation. That treatment ended a few months ago. In the midst of everything I had a major project at work and this new blog that started with the 20k Challenge. And, we were teaching our youngest daughter how to drive.

It was a pretty high stress season.

Because of the 20k Challenge I was forced to walk. I think otherwise I would have tried to escape with Netflix. I needed to get out of my head. But, walk I did and it was the BEST thing.

I discovered I think and process so much better when I’m moving. I also pray better. There was a clarity of thinking that I hadn’t experienced in a long time…if ever. I even feel more creative.

Ava’s surgery was successful and the radiation is over. The spark of her personality returned about three weeks after her last treatment. Except for a daily pill and, of course, appointments every six months the cancer is mostly in the rear view mirror. We are both so thankful.

Life’s challenges, though, remain. There is always something. That will never end. But, now I know that whenever I need to think and pray through a troublesome or vexing problem a walk will bring much needed clarity.

But, What About Health Benefits?

You could argue that those three are tied to my overall health…and I wouldn’t object. But, I don’t think that’s exactly what Mandy was asking. Since I started this 20k One Year Step Challenge she wants to know if I feel healthier…if I AM healthier.

And, that’s where the answer gets a little tricky.

I’ve been very transparent about my fitness journey. I’ve never indicated that it started with this 20k Challenge. It didn’t. It began about 11 years ago, and really kicked into high gear when I got my first Fitbit in 2013.

Since then I have consistently increased my daily steps, added in an intense 20 minute cardio workout every morning, and a strength workout six days a week. My fitness level was pretty high when I started the Challenge on September 1. So high that I haven’t noticed any additional health benefits.

I already feel fit enough to do the things I love. And, my physicals for the past three years have all come back with great numbers. One person, after reviewing my results said, “Whatever you’re dong keep doing it!”

When I started this fitness journey 11 years ago my weight was beginning to creep up and I was also experiencing some noticeable blood sugar issues. There’s a history of diabetes in my family, so I was concerned. Those two things were my initial motivation to get moving. Eventually the weight dropped and the blood sugar stabilized. Those were pretty noticeable health benefits.

Interestingly, a few winters ago I thought it would be good idea for me to take a break…to back off on my step goals while the weather was not “walking friendly”. It didn’t take long for the weight to begin creeping higher and for me to start feeling sluggish. So much for that experiment.

I’m learning that fitness doesn’t really have a finish line. It’s not about reaching a goal and then stopping. I’m not doing the 20k Challenge to reach some fitness nirvana. I’m doing it because I love walking and it’s important for me to maintain fitness. And, it won’t stop on August 30 either.

Mandy wants to know if I’ve noticed any health benefits since I started. No…because I noticed them a long time ago and there’s no way I’m giving them up now.

If you’re struggling with your fitness you’ll have a unique (and fun) opportunity to try something that could be a real game-changer. I’ll be rolling out the details next week. If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you won’t miss a thing.

    

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