COVID19 Habits

Day 142 // Habit Series: Walking

August 4, 2020

In my old life, getting 10K steps/day was not hard. First of all, if I went for a run — well, there went ~6-10K, depending on the length! Second, life contained myriad opportunities to move from one place to another. From the parking garage to the office. From my office to each patient room (many times). To a conference at the far end of our hospital campus. Etc.

Compare that with yesterday, when I looked up from my work at 12:00 and checked my watch. 786 steps. I am not kidding.

While the 80 Day Obsession workouts are hard and leave me dripping with sweat (ew, but seriously), they do not provide ‘steps’ in high volume. (The highest is the cardio core workout which typically registers in the 2000s).

All of this has left me feeling incredibly stiff. There is an innate desire to move that is not being met in the current setup unless I get in a walk somehow. SO, most days I try to do just that.

When / How / Etc

I love to listen to a juicy podcast while walking (listening to Michelle & Barack Obama was one of the highlights of last week for me!). So if the stars align and I have a block of time around lunchtime or at the end of the afternoon (our nanny currently leaves @ 5:30), I will quickly dart outside for a walk. It feels like such a treat to escape the house.

(I do not typically mask while I walk. It’s typically 90F and humid, and in my neighborhood, there is ample space so that I do not come within even . . . 20 feet of anyone, really. I do cross the street or go into the middle of the (very quiet) street if I see someone coming. For the record, I mask everywhere else and any time there is a remote possibility I might have to come within 6 ft of someone.)

HOWEVER, those blocks of time do not always magically present themselves. The alternative is to walk during a Webex (Zoom alternative that our system uses) meeting! I have a fair number of meetings or conferences I have to (virtually) attend, many of which are large enough that my participation is fairly minimal. For better or for worse, most of the meetings I attend do not require use of video (more than 1/2 of the people have video inactivated). It’s an amazing time to walk. I actually find that I can often focus better on a walk than I can at my desk when there are tempting distractions (aka my laptop/phone).

Once in a while, I will bring a kid on a walk. Annabel does very well. We often go off on planning tangents together with topics of conversation like: “Design your absolute fantasy birthday party.” or even “What planner do you want to use next year?”. Cameron . . . well, we’re working on it! He would rather play basketball or skateboard than walk around the neighborhood.

So is 10K steps a goal, and do you reach it?

Yes sort of . . . and nope, not usually! Last month I got to 10K only 8 out of 31 days! BUT I’m doing strenuous workouts that are often up to an hour 6 days/week and walking most days, so I don’t feel too terrible about it. I still like having and tracking the goal of 10K, since it’s just challenging enough that I can hit it sometimes.

I track the steps on my Garmin 235 watch, by the way. I’ve had this watch since 2016, though the company shipped me (free!) replacements twice, even though the second time I was just outside the warranty window. I am brand loyal because that is some amazing customer service. Once this one conks out (eventually, I’m sure) I will replace it with another Garmin product. Plus it works very reliably.

Interesting things I have seen on walks:

Honestly . . . I see more interesting things when I am with the kids because they point them out!

Duck sitting on eggs

Duck with a bunch of baby ducks trailing behind (never gets old to see this!)

Lots of blue jays (love them!)

Tons of tropical flowers

Pineapples, mangoes, avocados, coconuts growing in various yards

Chameleons galore

Lightning (causing me to high-tail it home, I am terrified of lightning!)

pic of G walking b/c I don’t have pix of myself!


  • Reply Irene August 4, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Love this! I am not a particularly athletic person but really need to move consistently through the day. For various reasons I am not having a lot of meetings/ calls right now and basically none I could take without access to reference documents and the ability to take notes. I do occasionally “waste” precious child care time by doing some exercise because I just need to.

    I once read about the concept of exercise “snacks” where you do 30 minutes but broken up over the day but in 5-10 minute bursts. I don’t think it’s a replacement for an actual work out but I have been trying to sneak in exercise when I can even if it’s walking around for 5 minutes or 29 squats because an hour work out most days is just not happening.

    Does G walk or ride in the stroller? My 2.5 year old is decent about sitting in the stroller especially first thing in the morning but he definitely doesn’t love it so I feel bad.

  • Reply Sarah K August 4, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Wow-so cool that you get to see all those tropical fruits growing right in your neighborhood!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 4, 2020 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been trying really hard to fit walks into my days, too. Like you, I used to easily hit 10k when I was working downtown between walking to the bus, running errands, going to talk to coworkers, etc. Now my steps are so low if I don’t take a walk. My day is so unpredictable so I can never really plan on doing it at a set time so I will squeeze it in when I get a break in meetings and consider that my lunch since I always eat while working (I know this isn’t a great habit but I’d rather eat and work if that gives me time for a walk). It’s really hard to fit it in sometimes though so I’m giving myself a break right now if it doesn’t happen. But my goal is 5 walks/week but I make up for it on weekends when it’s so much easier to fit walks/activity in!

    Our company just switched from WebEx to Zoom and there is major pressure to turn your camera on. I also used to walk while listening to calls where I didn’t need to talk but that is no longer an option. 🙁 I’m bummed as I paid way better attention while walking. It’s so easy to multi-task when sitting at your desk. Although I will say I am less likely to multi-task when it’s a video call because it’s obvious when you are multi-tasking, especially for smaller group calls. So I understand the pressure to have cameras on!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 4, 2020 at 9:14 am

      I literally eat lunch in 5 minutes (not exaggerating) so I can have time for a walk!! PRIORITIES (also I’m a fast eater!)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 4, 2020 at 9:15 am

      If there’s a wellness leader within your company you should get them to do a directive that you are permitted to walk during certain Zooms 🙂 It would probably be better for EVERYONE’S mental & physical health and I highly doubt it would lower productivity!

    • Reply KGC August 4, 2020 at 9:50 am

      FWIW, one of our faculty always comments that he loves when he sees people outside on Zoom with their cameras on. You may find there is less pushback than you think! Perhaps you could start with your camera on to say hi in the beginning of the meeting and then turn it off to walk. I agree that finding a higher-up (either your boss or a wellness leader, as SHU suggests) to endorse walking during Zoom is a good idea. Also…what would happen if you don’t turn your camera on? You say there is major pressure, but what are the consequences for not doing it? In some of my meetings, there are certain people who literally never turn their cameras on. I don’t know why (nor do I really care), but no one seems to mind – it’s just accepted that we never see their faces! I am a freak of nature who uses my non-camera-facing Zooms to do mindless tasks like folding laundry or chopping veggies for dinner! Keeps my hands busy but is not distracting at all from the conversation =)

  • Reply Kip August 4, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Yes! Agreed! I am currently on week 3 of doing 21 Day Fix. I am feeling stronger and really enjoy these workouts but I also struggle to get many steps during the day. I have a fit bit watch that will alert me to at least get 250 steps per hour. I don’t always notice or sometimes I’m on a video call but it helps with the stiffness and provides a nice brain break. I typically stand up and march in place but sometimes I’ll take a quick walk around the neighborhood (although ours is not as scenic as yours. love the pics!). I don’t have a ton of meetings but we are required to be on video in the majority of meetings and I typically need my computer during them so walks are out for me.
    Overall I feel good as long as I get a workout in but I do love the days I get a workout, 10k steps and 9 of 9 moving hours for the day.

  • Reply Jen August 4, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Same – for the first while of Covid i didn’t pressure myself and i felt so awkward being out. Anyway, once my running/triathlon season was cancelled i was mostly doing Beachbody workouts and found the same thing about low number of steps. Easily before i would log well over 10,000 – even on telework days by the time i did kid drop off which i would walk. I’ve started a little challenge with my sister where we send each other our weekly step goal and results. It’s nice to share with someone. I’ve also started into some base running again – just 30-40 minutes a few times a week and that definitely helps.
    For work, sometimes i look specifically at a meeting type and ask if we can do phone (or make sure the zoom has a phone number) so i can call in and walk. It’s hot here mid afternoon but it’s so nice to get out for a bit.

  • Reply Coco August 4, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    I love running and walking outside alone with a good podcast, thus even in my non-running days (2 days a week) I do go out in the morning for a walk. I think it brings more mentally benefit than physical. If I could, I’d do another short walk before dinner as sitting all day long really makes me lethargic.
    sometimes I’d take one or two of my girls for a walk and listen to their chat. The experience of walking and not looking at each other brings out things that normal time wouldn’t bring. 🙂

  • Reply Rachel S August 4, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Silly question, but how long of a walk do you usually take?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 4, 2020 at 7:26 pm

      Anywhere between 30 and 60 min! If I have an hour meeting I’ll try to just go for the hour. I am mostly limited by the heat / humidity factor. And storms.

  • Reply Omdg August 5, 2020 at 1:57 am

    Well, I definitely walk less now that I’m doing 21 day fix. Can’t really walk during lunch with my or job. And Dylan usually has to be dragged to go on a walk. But, walking is really lovely and fun, and I managed to fit one in with my husband the other day, and we do go in the weekends. I am not optimistic about evening walks or exercise at All once I’m back in the or from what I hear. We’ll see I guess.

  • Reply CBS August 5, 2020 at 4:23 am

    We’ve had minimal childcare throughout so I get my steps during my morning walk/balance bike with my son and then a longer, more peaceful walk after bedtime (Scotland, so it’s light until 10 in the summers). I have been subbing in my own cycle rides a few days a week but it isn’t safe to wear headphones, and I really enjoy that time with a podcast. My husband and I realised we weren’t getting out natural activity early on in lockdown so committed to 5 miles a day, and print out a chart each month. Cycling counts too so if we need to make up miles after a few sedentary days, that’s a quick fix.

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