The last two years (2020-2021) due to covid I had been leading a mostly sedentary homebound lifestyle. My previously hard-won fitness due to cycling and running suffered, and I started feeling out of shape. I remember being out of breath after only taking a short walk to the mall for the first time after months of lockdown in 2020. I also avoided exercising too much in an attempt to prevent migraines.
My habit tracker tracking 5000 steps a day showed only 2 days of completion in March 2020 – the beginning of the pandemic – imagine for the rest of the month (and year) I barely walked (I did cycle though):
In the beginning of this year (2022) we started taking thirty-minute slow walks after every meal because we couldn’t exercise post-vaccination for two weeks. That daily habit persisted even after the no-exercise window ended.
There were days when we couldn’t go out or didn’t feel like it, so my partner suggested walking in place while watching tv, something she has been doing for a while. It is killing two birds with one stone for her. I found it difficult as I am a twitchy person, and moving my legs in one spot felt really monotonous to me.
But throughout this year I gradually learnt to slow down, and walking in place while watching tv became a lot more bearable to me. At first I walked in 10-minute spurts, then 15, and now I can walk 30+ minutes. So now, after every meal I walk about 30 minutes. Typically I watch youtube on 2x: mostly videos on cooking, food, travel, fitness, and health research. Apparently we learn better when we move, so it is win-win.
Here you can see my steps stats – filled circles for 10000 steps – in Dec 21 before we started walking regularly:
An improvement in Jan 22 – still not hitting 10,000 steps much but overall more steps and distance:
And this is last month: hitting 10,000 steps almost every day – a whopping 67 km (41.6 miles) more compared to January – except two days when I was having a migraine, and one day when we were celebrating our monthly anniversary:
It has been 131 days since I walked less than 5,000 steps:
On average I’ve been walking 5000+ more steps every day compared to 2021:
And finally I have walked more steps by now compared to the whole of last 2 years – 2018 and 2019 were major travel years sigh but if I carry on this momentum I may exceed my best year in 2018:
Apart from walking in place watching tv, I also do a fasted walk 30 minutes to 1 hour every morning after writing my morning pages. Most mornings I plug in some music while walking slowly (13+mins/km). I see it more as an opportunity to listen to music uninterrupted on top of a break from screens, putting my brain in a relaxed, harmonious state, rather than an actual physical exercise. Again, killing two birds with one stone.
The bulk of my steps still comes from watching tv. I guess I want to convey the sentiment that consistency, convenience and baby steps matter – they all add up to something significant. Just a couple of thousand more steps everyday adds up to tens of kilometres every month. Here is a screenshot of my cardio fitness trending up over the past few months:
I have been afraid to run much this year so this is mostly from my walks outdoors, sometimes briskly, sometimes on inclines, with a few flights of stairs most days. I don’t know how accurate is Apple’s calculation, but it is still interesting to observe nonetheless. At my lowest fitness this year just merely walking made my heart rate go up to 100+bpm, now it is barely in the 80s.
I am slowly ramping up my running again, so we’ll see how that will impact my cardio fitness. I am also trying to learn to strength train. But I feel comforted that there is something so simple and accessible serving as the foundation of my fitness.
Why bother though? Because of gravity, our heart is unable to pump blood throughout the body. The calf muscle is known is the second heart – walking is essentially circulating blood using our legs as a pump. Aerobic fitness (which is a predictor of mortality) aside, the circulation of blood will affect how much my body aches. I also don’t wish to start lose more muscle due to disuse than I am already losing due to ageing.