On November 5th 2020, England went into its second lockdown. Instead of sulking, like I did for much of our first lockdown, I decided to change tack. I made a personal pledge to walk a minimum of 10000 steps a day. Not for any cause, not to prove anything, just to see if anything mildly interesting would happen.
It has been some time since my Appalachian Trail hike. Granted, it makes 10000 steps a day look like a walk around a kiddies playground. But my feet had been itching to get moving and under the restrictions and my dwindling fitness levels, this seemed like a good way to ease back into a challenge.
Spoiler alert: fast forward to December 2nd and I successfully completed said challenge.
Some fun facts: I walked a total of 316,095 steps over 146.95 miles, averaging around 11000 steps a day. Walking 10000 steps would generally take me under 2 hours and be around the 5-mile mark.
I walked every single day, in all weather and all frames of mind. Some days I felt great, other days it was a drag. Do I feel like it’s changed my life? Not particularly. Will I keep walking? Absolutely.
Here’s what I’ve learned by walking 10000 steps a day in lockdown:
It’s an attainable goal and a fun challenge
Let’s start with the basics. Walking 10000 steps a day is enough to be challenging, but also super attainable for most of us.
I feel healthier
Obviously. My local walks haven’t been strenuous in the slightest, but moving my body everyday has made a difference to my mental and physical health nonetheless. Physically, I’ve toned up a little, I have been sleeping better and generally feel like a brain fog has lifted.
There’s so much to explore
I felt compelled to explore new areas during my walks. Firstly, because it can become tedious walking the same route everyday. Secondly, because the distraction would trick my mind into thinking I’d reached my 10000 step goal faster!
No two days are the same
Even when following the same route regularly, something different would happen on each walk. One day a squirrel bit my camera, for instance. That’s never happened before.
I’ve become more appreciative of the indoors
Especially when getting inside after a rainy day. I’d look forward to my shower, lunch and a hot drink, something I usually take for granted and do mindlessly.
Routine and goal-setting is motivating
For me anyway. There’s something about fixing a plan or goal in place that makes me excited about the big picture, especially during such uncertain times. I find that having a daily routine, no matter how big or important, helps to keep me from slipping into a rut.
It frees up time for other things
Some days I would use my walks as a means to catch up with friends over the phone and listen to podcasts. Highly recommend Happy Place with Fearne Cotton.
Alone time is sacred
My walks helped me to really cherish alone time. Sometimes I’d use the time to problem solve, other times I’d just enjoy the quiet and find myself in an almost meditative state.
It inspires creativity
I’d often take my camera with me on my walk, inspired by the daily changes in the light, or a new find. One of my favourites was a cobbled alleyway I stumbled upon after taking a wrong turn!
It could help to combat winter SAD
Things can really start to go downhill in November, regardless of a lockdown. The nights draw in and the weather can be bleak for days on end. It feels like the world has turned grey. Seasonal Affective Disorder tends to make an appearance around now. I found that a daily walk helped keep it at bay.
I felt more in-tune with my surroundings
Over the course of the month I noticed a shift in the season. Everyday the leaves became sparser on the trees, men would come by with leaf blowers and clear them from the pavement. I’d watch the river rise and fall above the weir. Sometimes I’d see the cormorants dive for fish, occasionally resurfacing with a catch flailing in their beak. Canalboats would come and go from the boatyard.
Life can be busy and hectic, small details get lost in the blur. My daily walk helped me to tune back in.
What helped get you through lockdown? Leave a comment below!