Walking for Health – a Champion’s Story

Categories: Physically Active

By Hannah Brilling,  Keene State Nutrition Practicum Intern

The U.S. Surgeon General recently released a call to action, urging Americans to embrace walking, walkability, and health, called Step it Up!.

The number one goal listed? To make walking a National Priority. What are some Healthy Monadnock Champions doing to make walking a priority? 

Deb Arvidson chooses to walk because it is simple:

“I don’t have to keep up with an instructor, or worry about weights or equipment–in the past these factors always led to a pulled muscle or injury which would kill my momentum and cause me to give up.”

Deb knew she had to “get moving” when knee and back pain were developing from sitting all day for work. When a few friends got fitbits, she decided to give one a try… what started as a goal of 4000 steps kept building to become more of a lifestyle than about the steps. Deb was surprised how the small reward of a smiley face on her fitbit dashboard after meeting her daily goal helped to keep her motivated.

Deb started her journey with a 4000-step goal and a commitment to sensible portions, fewer crackers and more greens. Pretty soon, she was increasing her step counts from 4000 to 6000, and, finally, to 10,000 steps and a weight-loss goal. A huge milestone for Deb came when she hiked Mount Monadnock with her daughter; An accomplishment that proved to her that she was serious about staying active and wasn’t going to fail.

How to keep Going and going… and going and going…

Deb began walking last fall, and since that time she has made walking a daily habit. If she takes a few “vacation” days, here or there, they are planned and she walks a little further the days before and after.

Just like getting enough sleep or eating healthy, Deb says she still has to make an effort to keep walking a priority. Some strategies she uses to stick with her plans? Planning it as part of her daily schedule, involving friends, finding a variety of routes close to home to prevent boredom, and having some back-up plans ready for rough weather.

Since leaving behind a to-do list (at work or at home) can be difficult, Deb tries to think of the time she spends walking as valuable “me” time. Although it may not have been what originally motivated her, the mental benefits of regular walking have become as much a benefit to Deb as the more tangible physical results. In addition to having reduced knee and back pain and losing 30 pounds, Deb can also walk off her stress and she loves to “walk for several hours and have a complete train of thought without any interruptions”. While she knows the desire to keep going has to come from within, Deb says connecting with positive, active people has been one of the most important influences.

Thanks, Deb, for your story, insights, and inspiration!