When National Walking Day rolls around April 2, it will have a new champion and poster child, MUSC employee Rosie Smith.
Smith, who participated for the first time last year, marks it as a life-changing moment. Last year the compensation analyst in human resources for the medical center volunteered to become a group leader. Little did she know that almost one year later, it would lead her to develop closer bonds with friends and drop 28 pounds.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) will host a group walk of the MUSC “Medical Mile” on Wed., April 2 at 12:30 p.m. in celebration of National Walking Day. The “Medical Mile” includes Calhoun Street, Courtney Drive, Bee Street and Ashley Avenue, the four roads that surround the hospital. Participants have the option to start or stop walking at any point on the mile and they will get healthy living tips from MUSC, the American Heart Association and Fleet Feet Sports.
Suzan Whelan, wellness coordinator for MUSC’s Office of Health Promotion, said most people already know the steps they should take to engage in more physical activity but may need a nudge to get started.
“This event [National Walking Day] gives them a definitive day to begin what I hope will become an ongoing healthy habit. Taking time during the workday to care for yourself helps alleviate stress and renew energy.”
That certainly is what Smith has found. Last year marked the start of a healthier lifestyle for her, one she’s been able to maintain through the power of walking.
“I was 49 at the time and had an 10-year-old son. I pursued my career first, and then I had my child and so I felt like I wanted to do something for me.”
In January of 2013, Smith secured a personal trainer for her son, a football and basketball player, and was encouraged to exercise with a personal trainer of her own.
“I started with the trainer and my goal, at the time, was just to feel better. I wanted to live to watch my son graduate from college, watch him get married, and I wanted to play with my grandkids. Physically, I didn’t feel good. I was tired all the time, kind of sluggish, and I knew I was making poor choices with food and being a bad example for my child. I just wanted to do better for me and for him.”
Smith joined a gym. She said at first, she didn’t really have a goal as far as numbers on a scale. She just wanted to feel better.
“When I saw the announcement for the MUSC ‘Medical Mile’ walk for National Walking Day, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get out there. When I went, I saw they were looking for group leaders, and I said, ‘well Rosie, one way for you to be accountable is to volunteer to be the leader. Then you have to do it.’”
Smith signed up to be the leader of a group of walkers, and they’ve been walking together for more than a year. Now, Smith says she wants to get outside. “I’m in one of those offices, that so many of us have that doesn’t have a window. That sunshine and fresh air just gets the melatonin going, and it helps with my stress level. It’s absolutely refreshing. It’s changed my outlook on work, my stress level is reduced, and I’ve lost weight, so it’s a win-win.”
Smith said another perk of walking with a group is making new friends. “It’s nice to meet and get to know people I may have passed in the hall and just said hello to, but didn’t know a thing about their lives and what they’re going through.”
MyFood Diary Tips for starting a walking group
- Identify and invite people to walk.
- Designate leaders for the group
- Gather information from walkers (e.g., phone numbers, email addresses, emergency contacts and health information)
- Create a schedule
- Set some ground rules (e.g., keep it positive and make an inclement weather plan)
- Set a goal
Did You Know?
- People who are physically active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.
- Walking has been shown to improve arthritis pain, fatigue, function and quality of life.
- Walking at least 30 minutes a day can help you maintain body weight and lower your risk of obesity
- Walking at least 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer