31 Days of Aging Gracefully: Day 12 — Walking for All I’m Worth


A few months before I retired at the end of 2010, I began to intentionally take walks almost every day. I’d done it for a lotta years before I moved to Santa Barbara and began my pastoral work, but somehow, the habit died away. We lived on a street without sidewalks, it was quite hilly . . . yadda, yadda, yadda.

I quit. I was distracted. I was lazy.

Then I landed in the hospital with blood clots in both lobes of both lungs and I began to think about trying to get more exercise. So I walked. Very slowly at first, walking laps around the large parking area of our driveway or around the campus at church, sometimes even around the pews in the sanctuary. 

Then I went to Laity Lodge in the fall of 2012 — my second time to that marvelous place — and one of our speakers was an expert on neurobiology. We happened to be in the same van heading to the airport for our flights home and I asked him what the latest developments were for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He said this: “Sadly, there isn’t much that we know right now. It’s a much more complex process than we initially thought and the meds we’ve developed only target tiny pieces of that process. But there is one thing we do know that can help prevent or delay onset of this disease and that is this: thirty minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days each week.”


So I began to step it up even more, getting to about a mile and a half or two miles each evening. Slowly, I began to get stronger and I also began to drops a few pounds here and there.


Then, I injured my foot while on vacation. And during PT for that injury, I sustained a far worse one — the story of which you undoubtedly have heard enough about to last a lifetime. I could no longer walk and the pounds began to slowly return.

Then, after trying various combinations of strange footgear and consulting with three different doctors, I had corrective surgery. And going into that surgery, I put myself on a fairly stringent diet and lost a number of pounds just before and for several months after that surgery and recuperation. 


Within about two months, I began to take very, very careful walks once again — laps around my driveway and occasional circles at the beach nearest to that home. Since our move, I have mapped out a route in our new neighborhood and found another beach that allows me to walk on the sand at low tide. The pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone while on each of these routes.

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You know what? I LOVE WALKING. I often have my longest prayer times when I’m walking. I don’t talk much, but I listen and I lift names and faces to our loving God, trusting that God knows their needs far better than I. Since our trip to Kauai last July, I am waking up much earlier than ever before in my life (which means about 6:15 or so — I am SO a night owl and not a morning person!) and I’m usually out of the house between 7 and 7:30.

In many ways, those walks are a highlight of the day for me. 

And they are also good for me — in every way I can think of. Since that initial hospitalization for pulmonary emboli in May of 2010, I have lost about 80 pounds — very, very slowly. And, hopefully, permanently. I’ve dealt with weight/food issues my entire adult life, so I make no guarantees. Somehow, this feels very different from earlier weight loss episodes and I am praying that I am very different. 

So far, so good.


What do you do to stay healthy? 

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  1. you inspire me in the walking department. I started walking again after my knee replacement because I had to and I have to keep it up. I’d like to get back to 2 miles a day (40 minutes). I almost always do at least 20. My goal is 5 days per week. I had slacked off for awhile and i noticed the slow downward reading of the scale stopped. I am feeling better again now with walking. I walk around our little lake. . I hate walking inside on a track so often walk in the cold as long as sidewalks are clear.

    • Funny that correlation between movement on the scale and movement on us! I’m grateful for year-round outdoor walking climate, but I’ll actually be grateful for some cooler weather SOON. Man, it’s been a hot fall this year. I have to start before 8:00 or it’s just too hot to go. Ouch.

  2. You’re very self disciplined and are reaping good results. After my hubby’s heart surgery, he began daily walking, something he continued once we had a larger dog that also needed the exercise. He’s always been slim, unlike me. I used to love walking and would like to join him, but now arthritis had settled into my knees, ankles and feet, and anything other than a short stroll results in more pain than I want to endure. Weight has been a battle for me since childhood (and undoubtedly contributes to the arthritis), but I lost a chunk during my go-’round with cancer, and now have settled into an acceptance of what is still my less-than-desirable weight. At least I eat healthy, and do lots of bending and stretching while gardening.

    • I don’t know about self-discipline, Carol. That’s something I’ve worked on all my life. I’m disciplined in some areas, but exercise and eating have not been so great. Better now, that is true. (Didn’t know you’d had cancer, either, my friend. Goodness, you’ve had a road!) SO sorry for the arthritis pain – so far, for me at least, walking actually seem to help with that, as long as I don’t do anything too steep or rugged. Gardening is great exercise – so enjoy it!

  3. Hurray for you. Walking truly is wonderful.

    • Thanks, Gabriele – yes, walking IS wonderful! And after a too-long spell when I couldn’t walk, I’m grateful for it daily.

  4. You look wonderful, and I’m thankful you feel well. Walking has been my exercise of choice for years. Lately our days have become so busy, it’s often difficult to fit it in. I definitely notice the difference when I’m not getting those walks in. Time for me to get more deliberate. I’ve noticed the pounds creeping up 🙂

    I confess, I envy your walk! Oh my, what a beautiful place to walk, Diana.

  5. You look great, Diana! As for what I do to stay healthy… I have to admit, it’s pretty much nothing. Not good, I know. Well, apart from gardening. Does that count? I have several reasons to exercise, and I still don’t. Sigh… what can I say? It’s on my to-do list.

    • Gardening definitely counts, Donna! Start with short time periods – I walked for 10 minutes only for quite a while and worked up to 35-40. Be kind to yourself — your plate is very full, my friend.

  6. Sheila Dailie says

    Walking is my exercise of choice, beginning almost thirty-five years ago. Our farm yard was not only our home, but also had room for my mother-in-law, and we met nearly every day for thirty-three years at about 6 a.m. for at least a mile walk. When her cancer made it impossible for her to walk about two years ago, I began the grieving process. But the blessing has been a richer, longer prayer time as well as some work at memorizing Scripture. (That is harder now that the dawn arrives near the end of my walk.)

    Beautifully written—and you look great!

    • How lovely to walk with someone you love, Sheila. But also, how lovely to walk alone. I enjoy both. And thanks for your kind words.

  7. You look FABULOUS! I’ve been a walker and sometimes very slow jogger since I was 35, and it is my best prayer/thinking time.

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. Jogging is BEYOND my capabilities (very bad knees for 35 years), but walking — that I can do. And it’s my best prayer/thinking time, too!