Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Walkabout

I love to walk.

I didn't realize how much I love my outside, fresh-air walks until I was stuck inside for 9 days, sick. I did venture out a couple of times over those days, but I didn't get far. My legs were wobbly as jelly. I shuffled to the end of the block and home again, exhausted.

On my first day back at work, it was minus umpteen outside with a wind chill. I knew that if I attempted the 20-minute walk my energy would be completely spent by the time I stepped in the door. So I cabbed it. It felt so wrong to hire a car for such a short drive.

I hated being in that cab. It was stuffy. Inside my down parka, I started sweating as soon as I got buckled in. We idled, trapped in the morning traffic. My leg muscles itched to get moving.

I worked for seven hours that day, until the office started to spin. Then I figured I'd better take another cab home. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Even though I was officially back to normal life, I still felt crappy. Depressed. I didn't sleep well that night.

The next day I felt well enough to set out on foot. It was so fantastic to be on the move, breathing un-furnaced air, getting a little sun on my face. The more I walked, the better I felt. My mood expanded like a hot-air balloon filling up. My cramped muscles heaved a sigh of relief and began to un-knot themselves. That night, I slept like a baby.

Never before have I appreciated how essential walking is to my mental health. It's my me-time, my thinking time, my prayer time. It's my appreciating-nature time. I've read that walking is therapeutic in that it harmonizes the two hemispheres of one's brain.

I can't imagine living like some people apparently do. I've heard that some folks never walk anywhere. They'll take their car to go two blocks to pick up a loaf of bread. Or maybe they live in a subdivision where nothing is in walking distance of anything else and there aren't even any sidewalks. I've visited places like that. They feel as alien to me as the moon.

What place does walking have in your life?

13 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I walk to the car, does that count? I wouldn't mind getting out and walking nature trails and communing with nature and all that, but I would have to drive a fair distance to even find nature. Walking around town is just not that thrilling.

jameil1922 said...

oddly a lot smaller one than i thought it would. even though i'm on this huge campus i don't have to ever go far. i miss walking but i like to walk places where i don't have to inhale fumes which means not near my house which means getting in a car to go somewhere quiet to go on a walk... :(

whatigotsofar said...

Walking is nice. Especially when there's a nice park nearby. Lotsa walking and no place to piss away money on penny whistles and moon pies.

LL Cool Joe said...

Yeah I'm the same as Ron. I walk to the car! :D

I used to walk everywhere but when we moved house every thing is too far to reach on foot, but I have a gym at home and I lift weights and use the rowing machine and the exercise bike. Does that count?

Claire said...

I love to walk. I'm really hoping that if I get shorter hours and/or move to a city next year I can get back into walking more. And I want a dog to walk too!

Cxx

Kate said...

My mom and dad walk every single day no matter what, no matter the weather. When my mom was sick, she'd have the best hour after they'd get home from their walk.

Me? I hold up inside and hope the air might sneak in under the windowsill.

San said...

I've read that about walking harmonizing the brain's hemispheres. And I believe it's true. In the winter I walk less, thanks to the icy walking paths out here in my rural subdivision. I'm afraid of falling and breaking a bone, as two of my friends have--wrists. Broken wrists do little for the brain's harmony, but in the warmer months I do love to get out and walk for 2 to 5 miles. Good for the muscles, the head, the eyes, and the soul.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Sometimes it takes a few steps back to realize what propels you forward. In your case, it was quite literal steps back, no?! My legs get restless if I sit still for too long. I was a mess at the theater last night - and served as the impetus to leave at intermission. Whoops!

Dianne said...

ever since I hurt my leg I have missed walking so much

I will often walk around my bakyard just to get that feeling

Karen said...

I walk to the car also. I don't get how the other side lives. Like how do you buy a weeks worth of groceries and walk home with it? Or how is it enjoyable to walk around when it is sub-zero or 100 degrees (F). LOL. I do walk for exercise in the spring/fall, but I live in the suburbs and I drive everywhere.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I'm lucky to live in Toronto, which is known as one of the greenest cities in the world. Most of the side streets are lined by mature trees, and there are parks all over. I don't have to go far to feel close to nature.

Jameil: Some of my favourite walks aren't within walking distance. I've always lived near side streets that are pleasant to walk on, but it's worth making a special trip to the city's most beautiful parks.

WIGSF: Penny whistles and moon pies? Um... I think I get what you're saying. Walking inside a mall or on a shopping strip is a totally different experience. Not at all the same as getting friendly with Mother Nature.

LL Cool Joe: It's definitely commendable that you exercise. I don't find that indoor exercise gives me the same peace of mind as walking outside, but that's just me. I may not be sporty, but I like to get out from under the ceiling on a regular basis.

Claire: Walking with a dog would be awesome! I've never had a dog, but if Ken wasn't allergic I'd consider it. Dog walkers have a much more social walking experience. I'd know a lot more of my neighbours if I had a dog.

Kate: Your parents are folks after my own heart. I feel the same way after walking - better, even if more tired.

San: My mother-in-law (ex) also broke her wrist by falling on an icy walkway. It can be very dangerous! Just this morning I almost slipped on my way to work. I squealed and windmilled my arms for a good, long, slapstick moment until I got myself steady on my feet again.

Nilsa: I hear you about the restlessness. Long car trips darn near kill me. They should just pack me into a straitjacket before we set out, because I'm bouncing off the walls after a couple of hours.

Dianne: Argh. It must be so frustrating to have a persistent injury! I thought about that- being disabled and not being able to walk. Last week getting from A to B wasn't even the biggest worry. I didn't have to go anywhere. I just wanted that walking feeling.

Karen: Groceries are my weight-bearing exercise. There's no way I could carry any more than two days' worth of groceries home in one trip, by hand or on my back. I stop in the market almost daily on my way home. When I lived alone and had to buy kitty litter I used to bring a giant wire buggy to the store. Pushing that thing back up the hill to my apartment building was pretty taxing.
I enjoy walking in weather between -15 degrees and +27 degrees Celsius. Anything outside that range gets to be arduous. Worst comes to worst, I can always grab a cab, although I'll usually tough it out on principle.

floreta said...

the best thing about cities to me is that i can walk everywhere! it seems more pedestrian friendly than towns.

Aurora said...

My dad is a very keen walker but his pace is like my slow jog. So as a teen I was always running to catch up--he and my stepmom are taller than me--and it was no fun after a while. Today though I really enjoy walks across campus. Especially with my iPod!!!