After we got married, Cynthia said my running days were over. She did not want me to have knee problems later in life. I took up speed walking as a healthy aerobic substitute for running. It certainly didn’t hurt when I discovered I was much more competitive as a speed walker than I ever was as a runner. Even without that incentive, my primary motivation was to minimize my chances of becoming a diabetic like my father and grandfather Stouffer, both of whom, needed insulin injections multiple times every day later in life. I read I could reduce my risk of diabetes substantially through regular exercise.
Since Cynthia and I moved to Willow Valley, I’ve gradually increased my walking routine building on some of the walking challenges designed by our Willow Valley Fitness Team. For the last 2 years, the fitness team has organized friendly competitions to see which campus including team members could walk the most steps over 6 weeks. I went a little crazy in 2015 during the competition between the campuses and posted an average of 28,600 steps (13.3 miles) per day over 6 weeks. I feel sure that was a factor in me completing the 2015 Wilmington Trail Club 36.5 mile Brandywine Trail End-to-End one-day hike one hour faster than the year before. I’ve done the End-to-End hike 28 times in the past 31 years. It is my favorite annual event to measure my fitness level. Knocking a whole hour off my time was as big a thrill as when I finished first,, winning the End-to-End walking trophy in 1990.
Inspired by a Willow Valley resident who bikes 2,500 miles per year, I decided to try and match or beat his mileage walking. I know my number of steps per mile, and my iPod is very good at logging and storing the number of steps I walk each day. So, November 17, 2014 through November 16, 2015, I walked 3,082 miles, the majority of it on the Manor and Lakes campuses. That is equivalent to walking from Atlantic City, NJ to Vancouver, BC with 62 miles to spare. One thing I learned from this experience was that I could eat anything I wanted, as much as I wanted and still lose weight. It was very effective at burning calories!
I can regularly be seen walking or speed walking around the Willow Valley Manor or Lakes campuses. When the weather is bitter cold or too uncooperative, I can be found walking the hallways of Manor and Manor North. It was during the winter of 2015, one of the coldest winters on record, when I walked inside averaging the bit crazy 13.3 miles per day.
by Marvin Stouffer