“Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
‘Ride,’ Pleasure said;
‘Walk,’ Joy replied.” ~ W. H. Davies
“My grandmother started walking 5 miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
I was tying my shoelaces one Sunday morning when a neighbour uncle remarked, where to?
I replied – walking. He gave a disbelieving look. On reaching a nearby university campus, I could see that he was justified.
I found very few people my age walking. The early morning campus area was dominated by 3 kinds:
- Elderly gents and ladies who probably had exercised their entire lives,
- Children hurrying towards the cricket grounds and
- Some enthusiastic looking middle-aged people perhaps on the brink of some illness and doctors forcing them to exercise!
(There was a small group of extremely fit people too – were they preparing to join the army?!)
Walking seems to be a lost form of exercise.
But I could sympathize with others.
I have always enjoyed walking. I remember my childhood days going for long walks with my father. But as time has passed and life has become more sedentary, my desire to take walks has decreased. (Walking around office doesn’t really count.)
Time constraints, easy availability of transport, low visible fitness ROI and general laziness could be cited as reasons.
Not to mention that our cities don’t really support walking. At least most of the areas. A walk involves challenges of dodging vehicles of all shapes and sizes, no path to actually walk on and dogs randomly following or barking at you. That is, if you successfully avoid the occasional cow or buffalo. 🙂 Wish our cities go the Bogota way (you heard it right, read this article.)
I came across the concept of 10,000 steps in a book I recently read, called The Happiness Project (highly recommended). As per this rule, a human should take at least 10,000 steps daily to stay healthy. Comes to roughly an hour of walk per day.
It was time to revive my childhood joy.
Weekends could be managed, I was for the most part free. But weekdays?
As I had learnt, instead of fighting willpower daily, it was easier to ‘bake it into the system’. Make it unavoidable.
My current solution? Walk part way to office.
As I resolutely walk back from office one day, I find a dog following me, with what seems to be a look of curiosity. We humans are perhaps the only species which exercises consciously. But how do I explain to it that I have spent the major part of the day sitting hunched, staring at a computer screen?
3rd Nov 2017 update: I took a flat close to office, so that I could walk. Did this for 7 years. Recently my office shifted. But I continue to walk most of the way, taking public transport for the remaining distance. 🙂