A walk will do more good

My friend Kathy and I enjoyed an afternoon walk around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, April 2008.

My friend Kathy and I enjoyed an afternoon walk at the Arch in St. Louis, April 2008.

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”  —   Paul Dudley White

My own experience bears out the truth of Dr. White’s observation.  I can’t say enough about how much walking helps me.  It clears my over-stimulated brain, lifts my spirits and puts me in contact with my neighbors and my neighborhood.  When I’m traveling, it shows me more about the place I am visiting than any tour ever could.   It gives me time to enjoy music or books in audio format, and I’ve listened to unabridged versions of literally hundreds of books on my walks.

Besides all this, walking has helped keep my weight down, my cholesterol and blood sugar levels lower (I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago) and has helped to remedy my lifelong problems with insomnia.  And it actually ends up saving me a good bit of gas money when I regularly choose to walk to close destinations such as shops, the post office or the grocery store.

I didn’t start with five miles, of course.  I started with one to two miles and worked up as I felt the immense benefits.  Now it’s an important part of every day for me. Time rarely allows me more than two or three miles anymore, but I hope to work back up to five daily someday.

If you are among those of us who dislike weightlifting, gyms and exercise machines, try walking.  For me, it’s been easier to stick to than any other form of exercise.  It’s one of those rare opportunities to have great fun while improving my physical, mental and financial health.  Spring is a great time get started!

This post was originally published seven years and two days ago today. The date was adjusted this year to allow the 2013 Memorial Day post to be re-published on that holiday.

I’m just now getting back to walking regularly, having lost that habit along with much else in the aftermath of Jeff’s death. On the plus side, I also lost the diabetes diagnosis. After three years of my A1C blood levels consistently staying in the normal range, my doctors confirmed I no longer have diabetes, and I’ve stayed free of it (with continued dietary changes) ever since. I think walking had a lot to do with that. My blood sugar levels are still on the high side of normal, so I need to get back to walking longer distances.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Sheila

    Good morning Julia. ☕️ It’s a rainy day in Garden City, wind is whistling and has the ocean “in a tizzy”! I don’t ever mind waking up to a gray morning with rain drops on the windows to greet me. It certainly can’t mess up this non hair do, for sure. I’ve enjoyed your recent posts and the additional postscripts. Walking was the RX that Bill was given two months ago when he had his back surgery. Walk, walk, walk! He ordered 2 walking sticks from a fine Company in Texas that specializes in those. They keep him upright and balanced and allow him to walk farther. These walks have allowed us to meet and greet many neighbors along the way, a real plus in these days of little social interaction. I hope you’re enjoying every day with walking and otherwise. We have a little terrace garden that is giving us much pleasure but no veggies yet. Earth Boxes are the best and easiest way to go. They came with everything but the plant. FUN! I wanted to have this little comment awaiting you, my friend. Hi to Matt! 💖☔️

    • Hi Sheila! I’ve never heard of Earth Boxes — I’ll have to look that one up. A nice walking stick or cane can look quite dapper, I think. It can do double duty as a fashion accessory! But I’d be the sort who was continually leaving it behind (unless I really needed it to walk, which would be a sort of built-in reminder, like rain for an umbrella). This winter was so mild and so far, the summer has been too. We had an 80-degree day recently and it felt downright hot! I used the cool days to get some serious pruning done at the York home. I’m glad Bill is able to be out and about despite his recent surgery. You have the right idea about rainy days…just right for that extra cuppa! Having “bad hair day” every day has been one of my favorite things about the lock down! An automatic excuse to be lazy. I’m starting to feel like Rapunzel, though. Can’t remember when my hair was quite this long. I might over-react when I finally get in to the hairdresser again, and get my once-every-three-year cut even shorter than usual! Thanks for being here. Y’all have a great weekend!

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone else say that they are “no longer diabetic,” so kudos to you for your resolve that turned your diagnosis around!
    I’ve been letting myself indulge in treats during this “stay home” time, thinking, “oh, it’s just temporary, to make this time more pleasant….” Not such a good choice.
    Do you wear a face mask when you walk, or just bring one with you? Around here, no one wears a mask unless they are going into a store or something.

    • Yes, it’s rare, but type 2 diabetes caught early enough can be reversed. It’s tempting to ask whether I actually had it, but my doctor was emphatic that anyone with fasting glucose over 125 for three weeks in a row (daily) as I was, is definitely diabetic. However, she agreed to let me try to manage it with lifestyle and dietary changes alone, warning me that in all likelihood I would end up on medication at some point no matter how hard I tried. However, not so with me. As soon as she learned of my diagnosis, my mother sent me Julian Whitaker’s controversial book and I followed it, with immediate results. Diabetes, type 1 and type 2, is all over my family tree and I was determined not to give up without a fight. Now pretty much everyone agrees that I am no longer diabetic. But they still do A1C tests on me every year because aging does definitely increase risk.

      I don’t wear a mask while walking because there are so few people out. If I do pass someone, we both automatically widen the distance between us (the traffic is so light that I usually can walk in the middle of the street, facing traffic of course, until we pass each other). I do wear a mask in stores, at the gas station, etc. although I have no illusions about it being a foolproof virus barrier. It is definitely safer than going without, though. I think the data filtering in do suggest that a great many people with the virus are asymptomatic, which is good news in the long run because it means the fatality rate is much lower than originally thought.

      • Thanks for sharing the book!
        Your experience reminds me of Patrick and his heart disease (which he should really do even more to control, IMO). Five stents in his LAD occluded, but he grew enough collateral arteries (angiogenesis) that his doctors find it hard to continue arguing (for the past five+ years) that he should have bypass surgery immediately.
        I also think a mask is a good idea, partly because it may lower the viral load if one is exposed. I also think it helps other people who need to be wearing them feel more comfortable if more of us are doing likewise. I also get kind of a kick out of seeing the styles some people select (or have foisted upon them), if they’re a little unusual. I have read that some Asian cultures consider it rude, selfish, and vain to not wear a mask, so they have peer pressure working. In the opposite direction of the Minnesota culture, for sure.

        • My heart breaks for Minnesota right now. Just lately I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve told me about Minneapolis (reality vs. myth) and it seems your cautionary advice was well-justified. I keep trying to hope it will end up better, but it’s hard to imagine sometimes.

          • There certainly are a lot of sincerely kind people in Minnesota, but it doesn’t take many meanies to change one’s overall experience. Obviously, it’s easier to notice the one person that cuts you off in traffic over the twenty that don’t.
            Thank you for your prayers.

            • Yes, it’s astounding how much one nasty, mean or evil person can ruin so much for so many, especially on a psychological level. Partly because others stand by and let them do it. I could draw obvious parallels here, but will refrain. It is so very easy to forget all the GOOD people when the few nasty and evil ones can wreak so much havoc. All the more reason to keep looking UP and defeat despair!

  3. mike c.

    I came across a beautiful hymn written by Father Michael Joncas- “Shelter me.” The rendition by the Group Spiritu is pretty Awesome. This song was written by Joncas for these Covid times. Very beautiful and I am listening to it a couple of times a day. BTW thanks for book suggestion.
    This is copied from UR. It is a beautiful hymn based on Psalm 23.

    • Thanks for this suggestion, Mike. I looked it up and there are quite a few artists who have recorded it. Apparently it is very popular right now.

  4. aileen boone

    Hi Julia, I’m glad your getting back into walking. I’ve increased my walks to 3 miles and even get Ken to go on occasion. I usually get over 16,000 steps a day especially when grandson is here. He’s 20 mo already. They live in Houston and we are in san Antonio now. Recently my good friend Allen died of cancer and I wondered if I can share your info with her.

    • Aileen, what a delightful surprise to hear from you! Believe it or not, just a day or so before you posted this comment, I had been thinking of dropping you a line to say hi and see how you were faring in the lock down. But then I realized that I wasn’t sure I had the right address for you (still Papillion?) and I’m just not one of those people who prefers Facebook to stay in touch. So I’m glad you posted a comment here! Kudos to you for getting up to the three miles per day mark. I think that’s about the ideal for me, but I’m not there yet. Way back when I was walking 5 miles, I had started to have foot and ankle problems that got to the point where I had to consult the doctor. Those went away when I stopped walking, and so far have not recurred with a much lower mileage per day. So I’m going to work up to three and stay there, I think. Yes, feel free to share my info with your friend’s wife. And thanks so much for getting in touch! Is your address from three years ago still the right one?

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