WHAT I DO Time myself on a one-mile track and walk to beat my best time. I post the day and the time on a chart I tape to my refrigerator. I like watching my progress.
WHY I have trekked around my neighborhood for 10 years and often wondered whether I was getting a good workout. I've read that a 15-minute mile is a good target for aerobic benefit after you've been active awhile. In mid-September I bought a stopwatch and took it down to the quarter-mile school track near my house. I was surprised on my first day out that I wasn't able to reach that benchmark. I came in at 15:57. I wasn't as good as I thought I was.
NEXT STEP I kept at it. By Sept. 30, I was down to 15:33. I noticed how fast walkers pumped their arms, so I added that movement. On Oct. 3, I walked a 14:51 mile. I was now walking a mile in under 15 minutes on a regular basis. By the end of October, I clocked in at 14:34; two weeks later, I crossed the finish line in 13:57. My current goal is to make it under 14 on a regular basis. My sense is that if I'm going to get any better, I probably will have to do a racewalk technique. Or ask the woman who consistently beats me how she does it.
THE RESULTS Doing an aerobic workout gives me a certain fluidity of movement and a feeling of well-being that lasts for hours. I also enjoy watching my time improve and reaching a new goal.
-- Mary A. Kelly, Silver Spring
Have you found a way to make walking a regular and enjoyable part of your life? Tell us about it and the health benefits you've realized. Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Sorry, we can't return or respond to submissions or publish commercial endorsements. Our address: Walk the Walk, Washington Post, Health Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. No calls, please.