By Lori Harper
I retired in 2018 after spending over 30 years in corporate America. Because I was so young (relatively speaking), everyone I encountered would ask me what I planned to do next. My response always was the same: nothing. You see, the last 10 years of my career were the most rewarding professionally and financially, but they took a toll on my personal relationships and physical health. I promised myself that I would take time to rest, recuperate and rejuvenate — and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
While my relationships with family and friends improved after retirement, my physical health didn’t change, and my doctor placed me on blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Needless to say, it was a wakeup call to get serious about my health. My best friend, VeLois Bowers, who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, encouraged me to make a commitment to my personal health. She offered to become my accountability partner, and so my walking journey began.
We agreed to walk a 5K (3.11 miles) at least four days a week. Some days, I call Ve, or she calls me, and we talk, laugh and cry — and before I know it, I’ve walked three miles. Some days, I tune in to Pandora and sing along to R&B or gospel. Then there are those mornings I just need to walk and talk to God.
TAKING STEPS TOWARD BETTER HEALTH
Regular walking benefits the body in several ways, according to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School.
•Counteracting weight-promoting genes
•Easing joint pain
•Improving immune function
•Reducing breast-cancer risk
I primarily walk in my neighborhood. The mornings are so peaceful, and I love the familiarity of the route, the fact that I don’t have to plan in advance and the added benefit of seeing my neighbors. In the past, I’ve participated in 5Ks (mostly for the swag), and I even traveled to Jamaica with my girlfriends to walk a 10K. The pandemic put a halt to those activities, so now I participate in virtual runs or walks, which keep me motivated, and I still get great swag!
My primary goal when I started walking was to get off all medications and lose 10-15 pounds and a ton of inches. As of today, I haven’t achieved either goal, but I’m in my best physical condition since I was in my 30s. I also received an unanticipated blessing; my spirit has been revived. Walking has been my therapy, and I have no plans to stop any time soon.
Lori Harper is a retired vice president of supply chain management at Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.