Walking for Your Health

Everyone wants to get healthier.  Not everyone does something about it.  It really isn’t as hard as you might think.  This is my story of how I got into an exercise routine and what benefits I have gotten out of it.

It starts about seven years ago.  My wife and I had both been talking about needing to get more active.  We had done the South Beach diet with good success, but we realized that we needed to get more active to keep our bodies in shape as we age.  She was hitting 60 and I was just a few years behind.  She started with a walking group associated with a local running store, Fleet Feet.  They had a program they called Walk Fit.  It was designed to get you up off the couch and get you ready to walk a 5K race.  Each session was about 8 weeks long and you slowly progressed up to the point where you could walk 3.1 miles without feeling like you were about to drop.  She seemed to enjoy it and encouraged me to start.

My problem was I had really bad knees.  It had gotten to the point where I could walk maybe 500 to 600 feet and then needed to sit down to let the pain in my knees subside.  I went to an orthopedic doctor (Dr. Mital) and he told me that my knees were rubbing bone on bone and that was the source of my pain.  He said that knee replacement was in my future but it was up to me as to when I wanted to do it.  Not liking the idea of major surgery I decided to try steroid injections.  They helped.  I could go about three or four months with much less pain.  But in about a year the steroids would wear off quicker and quicker.  It was time to pull the trigger.  We scheduled the surgeries about 8 weeks apart.  The surgeries went great.  The therapy was hard, sometimes painful, but totally worth it.  I now have two good knees and can walk without pain.  I would recommend Dr. Mital to anyone needing a knee replacement.

Anyway, by this time my wife had been walking for about a year and was even thinking about moving up to the 10K walking group.  She kept pushing me to get started.  I had finished all my therapy and was back to work.  The knees felt good, so I decided it was time to start. I found out it was actually fun.  The coaches were great and the other group members were friendly and fun.  I did two sessions of that and had worked my way up to doing a 5K with a pace around 17:00 minutes per mile.  My wife encouraged me to move up to the 10K group with her so I did.

What I didn’t realize was that session was training for the Tulsa Run (walking pace of course) which was a 15K race.  I jumped in and did pretty well.  My pace was slowing coming down and the distances were getting longer.  I have to say that it was a bit hard at first.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like going out, until you do.  When you’re done, you are glad you came out.  You are tired at the end but you feel good.  The goal race was a beast.  Even though it was late October, it was hot.  By the end I was wiped.  I know I probably went out too fast, all that adrenaline I guess.  But I made it and after a bit of recovery time I actually felt good.

I continued with the 10K group for a couple more years.  My doctor actually cut back on my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.  I felt better and I found that even when I wasn’t speed walking my general pace was faster.  All good reasons to keep walking.

We finally volunteered to be coaches and coached the 10K group for a while.  Now we are coaches of the 5K group.  My wife’s knees are beginning to bother her a bit so the 5K is a great distance.  We both have a good time helping new people get started getting fit.  It also helps us.  It doesn’t actually take that much time.  Just about an hour and a half a couple of evenings a week and a Saturday morning.

People have various reasons for being in the group.  Some like prepping for the races.  Others don’t care about the race, but really like the social aspect of walking in a group.  Some do it for their health.  Some do it just to keep moving.  Whatever your reason just get up and start.

There really are few reasons not to get started.  If you can walk a mile in 20 to 22 minutes then you are ready to start.  By the end of your first session you will be surprised how much faster you are.  Get up and get moving.  Your body and your brain will appreciate it.

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