Read how other members of your community are being physically active for health. These stories may inspire you to be more active and give you some ideas about how people just like you are making it happen.

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I would walk, rain or shine, and averaged 4-5 miles a day

Throughout my life, I have always been very active. I used to play softball on a recreational league and enjoyed it very much. I would play catcher most of the time but loved playing in the outfield. Also, walking has been a big part of my life.

Recently, I placed first in a five month long walking challenge at the Alpine Ridge Retirement Center. I would walk, rain or shine, and averaged 4-5 miles a day. My average step total each day was 7,000 steps with my highest daily total hitting 11,000 steps. At the end of the challenge, I had totaled 521 miles, which was very exciting for me. I lost 20 pounds during the challenge and I feel great. My muscles are much stronger and more toned. I hope to continue exercising to lose more weight, achieve better fitness, and strengthen more muscles.

When I’m not busy walking, I like to put together 3,000 piece puzzles. In the evenings, I am the beeper keeper at Alpine Ridge, which requires walking around the facility and helping residents in distress. I am also a ballot counter at the courthouse responsible for counting the ballots for elections, initiatives, and laws.

Everyday, I enjoy checking to see how much I have walked that day using my pedometer. With the spring weather, it is now possible for me to do longer walks again.

A special thank you to Liz McNett Crowl who brought the pedometers to Alpine Ridge and taught the residents (myself included) to use them!!

Opal Riggs, Age 71

Opal R.
“My joints and back always feel better after I walk, and that is a real motivator.”

I work day shift at the hospital and my job is absolutely sedentary. For physical activity I enjoy walking and riding my horse. I enjoy the smells, scents and sights of the outdoors along with the companionship of my horse. Riding horses give my legs, back and arm a great workout.

I rode horses as a teenager but then I didn’t ride for a long time until about ten years ago. As a breast cancer survivor I find that walking and riding horses makes me feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. My joints and back always feel better after I walk, and that is a real motivator. For some people with arthritis, I think they believe it will hurt more but really, at least for me, it gets much better with movement. Endorphins can’t be underestimated either. I have neck pain nearly every day but it’s reliably much better when I walk and after I walk.

My walking habits have passed onto my family too. My mother who is 82 just started working out for the first time in her life, at Curves, and she feels better than she has in years. She has less hip, low back, shoulder, and foot pain and stiffness. She just feels plain better.

I suggest beginners start out slowly, set small goals, and keep a log. I would remind them that being physically active may not feel good physically at first, but after a while you will start to feel good.

Charlotte Morgan – Transcription – Skagit Valley Hospital

Charlotte M.
“Physical activity strengthens my core and helps me prevent injury while making me feel more alive.”

I am the chief nursing executive and have been at Skagit Valley Hospital for nine years. There is a moderate amount of physical activity in my job while conducting rounds with physicians and staff but much of my work is done behind a desk as with oversight of nursing personnel and policies and procedures.

I am very religious about attending aerobic cardio workouts and weights classes and I find that physical activity gives me the extra strength I need to participate in sports such as snow skiing and waterskiing. I started running with a group of friends when I was in graduate school and believe it is important for me to be a role model for my family.

I moved from Portland, Oregon in 1996 and remember having to start a whole new physical activity routine. I recommend beginners try a variety of different physical activities in order to find the one they enjoy best that also accommodates their lifestyle. I also suggest finding a partner to workout with, setting goals and never giving up.

I enjoy the friendship, encouragement, variety, and challenge that physical activity brings me. A daily dose of physical activity allows me to change from my professional life to my personal life while visiting with people from different walks of life and professions.

Jan Iverson, Skagit Valley Hospital

Jan I.
“I make time each day to refresh my heart, body and mind by walking”

I have been a Chaplin at Skagit Valley Hospital since 2001. Although much of my time is spent sitting in my office or with loved ones and families I make time each day to refresh my heart, body and mind by walking.

The first year I started walking more, I did so out of curiosity to know how much I actually walked. The second year I did it for the walking t-shirt, and now I do it because it makes me feel good. I feel more alive and am at my best when I walk regularly.

My greatest motivators are my friends, family and my health. For instance, I walk many evenings with my housemate and also workout at Curves. I am also motivated to keep my body and bones healthy. I find that my active lifestyle has also passed onto my daughter who enjoys biking with my granddaughter in tow.

Since I began walking, biking, and working out more I find that I use my car less and spend more time noticing and enjoying my community.

My advice for beginners is to identify your personality. Do you like to walk alone or with a friend? Next, I suggest you do an activity that you enjoy and set small goals and enjoy the success of reaching those goals. Take time to reward yourself by going to tea with a friend or going to see a show- choosing something that is a pat on the back, without calories.

My grandmother was an avid walker well into her eighties and she inspires me. My record number of steps is seventeen thousand a day on a mountain hike.

Barbara Gilday, Skagit Valley Hospital

Barbara G.
"I'm very proud"

Working as a nurse in the Emergency Department at Skagit Valley Hospital I was always running around and lifting objects keeping in somewhat decent shape. I was never overweight but wanted to work on becoming more fit. My daughter (age 13) and I decided to join the Riverside Health Club. We thought this would be a great way for us to spend some quality time together and take advantage of the benefits of the buddy system.

My daughter and I attend the health club several times a week. We cover a very wide range of different activities that help to both keep us from getting bored and target different muscles. We started out using the treadmill at a fast walking pace and continue to progress to a faster pace. We also include the elliptical machine, swimming, and a weight lifting circuit.

Outside of the health club, although we never had bad eating habits to begin with we are now making more of an attempt to cook healthier and cut some excess fat out of our diets. I feel great; even after exercising when I’m exhausted I still feel great. Since joining the Riverside Health Club in mid-November I have lost 20 pounds. I am now much more toned and I’m very proud of my new muscle definition. I have so much more endurance at work and in activities that I take part in. I’m so glad that I joined.

Lora G. - Mount Vernon
"Having a pedometer really motivated me to walk."

Five years ago I let my exercise program of 6 years take a back seat to my going to work fulltime. Off and on I would make the time for exercise in my busy life, but soon I’d stop making myself a priority and cease to work out. Deep down in side I wanted to succeed at being fit and getting back into shape.

When the City of Anacortes announced a walking program using pedometers in April of 2004 I felt the urge to try the program. I purchased a pedometer and started the program at the end of April. I found that having the pedometer really motivated me to walk further each day. If I parked at the grocery store and had errands in the vicinity, I would walk to my errands and then return to my car at the grocery store. When I was at work I would walk during my lunch breaks or during my afternoon 15 minute break. At home I’d walk in my neighborhood and enjoy my surroundings while on my walk.

As the months of April-September went by I logged my miles each day and my total number of steps kept growing. I noticed that I was gradually loosing weight and that my clothes were starting to fit me better. I ended up dropping down two pants sizes during the program. I reaped many rewards from the walking program and I feel that this time I will continue to make exercise a top priority in my life. I plan to add strength training to my exercise program this fall and winter.

I became a proud member of the 1 Million-Step Club when I walked a total of 814 miles by the end of September 2004. Taking that first step was a step in the right direction for me. I found that walking is a very enjoyable form of exercise.

Cathy B. - City of Anacortes, Library employee
"Walking is a great way to start my day."

I was an avid walker, before I started wearing the pedometer. I meet friends every week day morning at the Cascade Mall, and walk about 40 minutes. It is nice to have the mall, so you can walk year around. It is a great way to start my day and also see friends. I like to have about 10,000 steps per day on my pedometer, some days it surprises you how many steps you go in one day.

Connie A.
"The pedometer serves as a reminder that every step counts."

I’ve been active most of my adult life. I belong to a fitness club, play in organized sport leagues and love all kinds of outdoor activities. I really started walking back in college when it was the only way to get around. I started wearing a pedometer in May 2003. The pedometer serves as a reminder that every step counts. Keeping track each day in a log helps me realize how much I actually do walk. I average 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day, more if I’m training for an event.

I started a running class in January 2004, Running 101, with Wendy Scott from Skagit Running Company. After about six weeks of "training" I realized that my knees would not take the running. I continued my training with walking.

I walk on my lunch break and I walk at night with the dog. Walking keeps my mind and body healthy. I plan my routes to incorporate errands during the day. I have not used sick leave, except for scheduled checkups, since May 2000.

On May 2, 2004, I successfully walked the Vancouver, B.C. 1/2 Marathon with my daughter and sister-in-law. Now I'm looking forward to the Portland Marathon in October 2004.

Joanne O.
"Last year I began walking to work for the Walk and Roll and forgot to stop."

"I began to enjoy the time that I spent walking and my wife soon joined me in walking in the evenings. My walk to work is a very easy one half mile walk and since I needed to have my fire department vehicle at work during the day I began walking home and back at lunch time and to meetings in the evening. I have found that I need to walk every day or I feel antsy. I was able to continue walking through the winter months and did not slow down even when we had snow on the ground.

A lot of my short trips in Burlington are now on foot. When I need to go to city hall during the day, it takes me about 12 minutes to walk the .8 mile trip and to drive it takes 10 minutes by the time that I get in the car and park and get out. It doesn’t take that much longer and I am getting a health benefit out of the trip.

I guess you can say that I am addicted to walking and am always looking for new places to walk. One of our favorites is the Padilla Bay trail. I now walk between 3.5 and 5 miles a day and enjoy every minute of it. Another benefit of the walking was losing 25 pounds and being able to maintain the weight loss. It did take some adjustment in diet to do that but it has all been worth it.

My family has a history on both sides of living long lives and I want to be in good enough shape to enjoy my life as I get older. “

Mark A. - Burlington
"I like the difference that walking has made in my life."

“Walking has always been extremely important in my life. I have tried running, cycling and other exercise, and I always come back to walking. It is a great stress reducer and provides an opportunity for fresh air and meditation.

Exercise – for me it’s walking – needs to be a part of your ongoing lifestyle. You need to put exercise in your life everyday. Otherwise, it’s too easy to skip a day, then two days, then three. I make walking part of every day.

I started walking to work every day and while at first it seemed inconvenient, I just learned that I need to schedule my day differently. I also love having walking meetings – it’s especially good for brainstorming sessions and information sharing with co-workers.

For me, the health benefits of walking are many. I have lost weight, I have more energy and it really just makes me feel totally better about myself. I feel like I have accomplished something. It’s something I can totally do for me.

I have a goal of 10,000 steps per day. I initially wore a pedometer to count my steps, but now I have an idea of my averages and how many steps are required for my one-mile walk to work, or the .8 mile walk to downtown Mount Vernon. I know I have to deliberately add a three- to four-mile walk every day to get to 10,000 steps.

Walking is also a wonderful way to get to know your community. I enjoy the many trails in our area – the Padilla Bay Shore Trail is my favorite.

I like the difference that walking has made in my life. It’s a way of life for me now, a permanent change for the better.”

Diane M. - Mount Vernon
"There is nothing like an early morning walk"

"I find that walking during my day, rain or shine, is a great way to boost my energy and refocus my thoughts on what the rest of the day will bring me. I have dedicated walking partners at work who also see the benefits in a noontime walk. I also find myself circling the soccer field while my kids are practicing, or walking while they are on their bikes as ways to fit in my exercise with their activities and our busy family schedule. For quiet time and the benefits of exercise, there is nothing like an early morning walk as the sun comes up to get your day off to a great start."

Kari R. - Burlington
How do you fit physical activity into your life?

"It's easy to get out of the exercise habit. I did after breaking my ankle several years ago. Two years ago I started walking with a friend and decided to try to make it a habit again. Walking is a chance to be outside. It's also an opportunity to walk and talk with my husband or a friend. It's become a part of what I do, 45 minutes a day, four to five days a week. I have lots more energy now and I've also lost over 40 pounds along the way. I think walking is what is keeping the weight off. It's not just for me physically, it's also good for me mentally and spiritually."

Lynn R. - Burlington
"I am a five year breast cancer survivor."

"I was interested in losing weight and diet was not enough so I decided to enroll in the Stride-Strength-Stretch class at the Skagit Valley Family YMCA. A big motivator for me is that my insurance company, Group Health, pays for my membership. I like the class because it gives me a full body workout with exercises, stretches, running and walking. I've lost 22 pounds since I joined the YMCA and I'm keeping it off. I have lots of energy, much more than when I started, and I have met lots of nice friends. I have gotten very limber. I am a five year breast cancer survivor. My arm was stiff as a result of this but now I can do just about everything with it."

Lee B. - Mount Vernon
"This is the most successful I have ever been in any of my weight loss efforts!"

"About 17 months ago I decided once again, that I was tired of being over weight. I wasn't getting any younger and was concerned about health problems that I could develop if I didn't do something about my weight. I am a great procrastinator but now I felt I was running out of time. I wanted to be able to be physically active when I retired and certain that I wouldn't be if I kept going the way I was.

I joined Weight Watchers. This was not new to me either, as I had been a member several times before. A month into the program I decided to start walking. My husband and I spend most of our weekends in Point Roberts, a very rural spot. He had already been walking on a regular basis but I never went with him. Now I was ready to start. I was a bit concerned about holding him back as he could walk much faster than me but that was not a problem for him so off we went. It was tough going up hill but I was determined I would keep going. I hated being short of breath but thought to myself that one day I will do this hill and not be out of breath. Well now I can.

We do a 3 1/2-mile walk three to five times every week. It is so nice looking at nature as we go. Watching and identifying different types of birds. Looking at changes in the vegetation as the season's change. We have met quite a few new people in our travels that I would never have met before as I was always busy in the kitchen preparing meals for everyone and never went far from home.

Since getting the pedometer I wear it religiously. I find it adds a lot of fun to the walk. If we make changes to our route I always look to see how much difference it made to the total number of steps. If it is less than I wanted I will make them up. If I haven't done enough walking during the week then I know I have to add more onto the weekend. This is the most successful I have ever been in any of my weight loss efforts. As of today I have lost 83 pounds. I can hardly believe it! I have to think that much of my success is due to walking as never before have I so consistently exercised. I feel like I have newfound freedom from the curse of obesity and it feels great."

Margaret E.
“Life is busy…”

“I walk to work because life is busy and it gives me an opportunity to exercise at the same time I'm commuting to work. Walking clears my head, gives me some thinking time and I don't have to find a parking space downtown. I commute a mile and a half each way and walk more in the summer months. On the days I walk to work I can justify not doing anything else for exercise that day."

Joanne L. - Mount Vernon
“I found that I really enjoyed the exercise as well as time to wind down.”

I started riding my bike to work from my home in LaConner five years ago just to prove to myself that I could do it. I found that I really enjoyed the exercise as well as time to wind down. The first few days, I thought I would never get home, but after a week or so, it didn’t seem to take so long. Now I’ve developed a system where I can take SKAT to work and ride home or during the summer months sometimes I ride both ways. It takes some coordinating and planning but I’m hooked. To anyone who wants to start riding their bike work, I would like to say just try it.

Corrinne R. - LaConner
“It’s low impact on the environment and my body.”

“I used to ride my bike a lot and because of kids and life in general I got away from it. I decided it was time to get back to biking. I live in Mount Vernon and commute about three miles to work (six miles round trip). It makes me feel great. I like biking because it’s low impact on the environment and my body and it’s good physical exercise. Last year I participated in Walk-n-Roll and I will again this year.”

Mark K. - Mount Vernon