We like to do it 10,000 times a day. And, apparently, plenty of other people do too — just check out our popular Facebook group
. We’re talking about walking, of course. Getting in those 10,000 steps will help you lose weight and decrease your risk of heart disease, memory loss and cancer. We asked four fabulous walkers to share their stories — how and why they started stepping, plus what keeps them going. Their stories are sure to keep you
Name: Debbie W.
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Family life: Married with two kids, ages 11 and 9
Why she started walking: Two years ago, Debbie learned that her cholesterol level was at 240, well above the healthy range. She immediately took action by cutting red meat from her diet and eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning. But a year later, her cholesterol level had dropped barely 10 points. After reading an article about exercising to lower cholesterol, she decided to make walking 10,000 steps a day a priority.
Her first walk: Debbie started with 10,000 steps a day — a major feat — but says those early days were difficult. “I had to walk on the treadmill at night to get the steps in,” she says, “and my calves were sore at first.” But it got much easier as Debbie worked walking into her day better — getting up early and walking while watching TV, walking at lunch, parking further away and taking the stairs.
Why she keeps walking: A year after Debbie started walking, her cholesterol level had dropped to 170, well within the normal healthy range. She finds that walking during her lunch hour fits easily into her schedule and doesn’t leave her sweaty throughout the day. Walking is also something she can do with her family and “pawsonal trainer” (her dog, Lady) after work. “I love that I don’t have to sacrifice time with my family to walk,” she explains. “That’s important to me.”
Where she walks: Debbie likes the wooded areas in her neighborhood and those surrounding her workplace, and she enjoys the camaraderie she gets from walking with coworkers. “I have a supportive workplace that encourages people to get out and walk, which is really nice.”
Overcoming obstacles: Debbie found that walking before bed made it difficult to fall asleep, so she began going to bed earlier and starting each day with an early walk. She started taping her favorite “guilty pleasure” nighttime TV shows and watching them while walking on the treadmill the next morning. “Exercising in the morning wakes me up and refreshes me for the day.”
Getting to 10,000 steps: With her treadmill workouts, taking the stairs, parking far away from where she needs to go, and walking during her lunch breaks and after work with her family, Debbie actually exceeds the recommended 10,000 steps a day. And she loves every step.
|Name: Jim C.
Hometown: Ashland, KY
Family life: Married with two kids, ages 37 and 35
Why he started walking: Jim has always liked to walk. After his battle with melanoma (skin cancer), Jim found himself gaining weight and his pace slowing down. He would pick up walking every once in a while and then quit. Then three years before he was due to retire, his plant fell on hard times and reduced his pension and Medicaid. He decided he needed to get healthier to get off of medication, reduce his doctor’s visits and lessen his risk of disease. He found that walking made him feel healthier and helped lessen the stress.
Where he walks: Jim recently joined a walking competition through work, and he and his coworkers walk together at lunchtime, logging their steps at the end of the day. He also joined our Facebook group “I do IT 10,000 times a day,” which got Jim, his wife and his sister-in-law all walking and logging steps at home too.
Why he keeps walking: “I’ve always enjoyed walking, and I have proven to myself that I can do it,” he says. He likes that it’s cheap, easy and it works for weight loss. “Walking gives me time to relax, think and mellow out at the end of the day,” he explains.
Overcoming obstacles: Having been active until he was ill, Jim is motivated to get better — and stay well.
Getting to 10,000 steps: Jim found that he already logged a lot of steps at work while moving around the factory. In addition, he walks for an hour after work every day, sometimes with his wife and sister-in-law. “It has become a family thing; it helps us to be healthier — together.” By the end of each day, Jim logs between 10,000 and 20,000 steps!
|Name: Marva A.
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Family life: Single
Work: Elementary school librarian
Why she walks: San Antonio is the seventh fattest city in the country, and it’s important to Marva to be active and maintain her size and health. She also finds that walking — even for just 10 minutes — gives her more energy when she needs it. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever: “After a stressful day at work, I just get out and walk,” says Marva. “It gets me away from my problems.”
Why she keeps walking: Her gym has a reward system for being active, encouraging members to reach 7,000 steps a day to earn free classes.
Where she walks: In the evenings, Marva enjoys leisurely walks in her friendly, family-oriented neighborhood, sometimes with her mom. Sometimes she walks to the park, often finding different areas and walking routes.
Getting to 10,000 steps: Because of her profession, walking is a big part of her day. Working in a large school, and meeting with teachers and students, gets her moving around. Between work, the gym and walking in the evenings, Marva is dedicated to going beyond her gym’s 7,000 steps and walking 10,000 steps every day. She looks to our Facebook group, “I do IT 10,000 times a day,” for support. “The group keeps me motivated to post my steps every day,” says Marva. “It inspires me to keep up.”
Name: Teresa A.
Hometown: Mascot, TN
Family life: Single
Why she started walking: When Teresa became a full-time caregiver to her father after he experienced a stroke and triple bypass surgery, she found that the stress of her job was causing her to gain weight, lose sleep and eat poorly. She realized that if she wasn’t healthy, she wouldn’t be able to take care of her dad. But she had to be careful about her exercise: As a brain stem cancer survivor, Teresa needed a low-impact exercise that wouldn’t throw off her balance or hurt her back. “If I move wrong, my back goes out of alignment,” explains Teresa. She chose walking, which loosens her back muscles (a perk, according to her chiropractor).
Her first walk: Teresa had seen Dr. Roizen on the Dr. Oz show talking about the power of walking with a pedometer, so she purchased one. “When I first stated walking, I only walked about 3,000 steps,” she says. She was tired from the effort, but she wasn’t sore. And over time, she began to feel better physically and emotionally. “Now that I get 10,000 steps a day,” says Teresa, “I feel great.”
Why she keeps walking: Within five months of starting walking, Teresa had lost 30 pounds. She finds that the more she walks, the healthier her eating habits become, the more weight she loses and the better she feels.
Where she walks: Around the neighborhood. Living in a small country town, she loves the view of the mountains and trees and enjoys running into neighbors along the way.
Overcoming obstacles: In the summer months, it’s hard to move around in the Tennessee heat, which can rise to above 100 degrees. As the day gets warmer, the allergen levels also rise and can be quite harmful. “If the heat and humidity don’t get to you, the allergies will,” says Teresa. That’s why she hits the pavement early in the morning before breakfast and again in the evening after dinner, when some of the day’s heat has subsided.
Getting to 10,000 steps: Teresa started slow, but she has worked her way up to 10,000 steps a day — enough to proudly call her walking habit an “addiction.” That’s one addiction we’re happy to endorse!
Do YOU like to do it?
Join us on the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Facebook group I Do It 10,000 Times A Day
, where we’ll be posting our steps and stories every day.