Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Walking It

Getting back to writing full time has been great in all ways except one: spending most of the day sitting in front of the computer. I take breaks and proof things out on the porch, or take my editing out to the work bench in the garage, which I use as a standing desk, but I have been spending a few too many hours on my butt in a small room. After gaining a few too many pounds over the holidays I also needed to work that off before I ended up spending all of summer in my chubby clothes.

I am not an exercise lover; my joints make most workouts impossible for me, and I'm not nearly flexible enough to do more than the very basic low-impact stuff. Also, like most people, I hate exercising. The only varieties of exercise I've always liked are swimming and walking, and since we don't have a pool and the beach is far, far away I decided to set a daily walking goal for myself. In addition to what I already walk with the dogs I would try to do an extra mile in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Two miles doesn't sound like a lot, I know. Unless you have a bum knee, arthritic joints, and a tricksy ankle that likes to sprain itself with any misstep; then you're probably quite familiar with my pain. Most days those extra two miles do feel like twenty, especially when I do mile #2 after dinner. The first week I got blisters from wearing the wrong shoes; the second I had to change my route because the late-day traffic and people driving like maniacs down my favorite country road to walk scared the heck out of me.

The benefits, on the other hand, have been measurable. I lost five pounds in the first week without any extra dieting (probably all in sweat.) I'm sleeping better, too -- deeper, restful sleep without waking up in the middle of the night. I can't say I'm full of boundless energy, but my spirits have been better and I feel more upbeat about things, which tends to make me more energetic. Being outside in the sun and seeing the flowers of spring has that effect on me; we writers often forget how beautiful the real world is, too.

Walking also inspires me to think in different directions. I took my camera on one morning walk and photographed this old shed door, and then came home and wrote on the image:

Sure, it's not War and Peace, but it made me think in a different direction. When I booted up my work file for the day I took on a scene I thought would be difficult to write, but thanks to getting creative with the pic I worked my way through it with a bit more confidence and enthusiasm.

Where you walk is as important as how often you walk. Obviously you want to go somewhere safe, but you should also consider the environment. I love country neighborhoods as much as urban developments, but I try to avoid dirt roads (the ankle -- it's super tricksy on uneven or unstable surfaces.) I love to walk down by the lake, and since they have a really cool nature trail there I also see lots of birds every time I go. If you have a beautiful park nearby your home or office that offers a nice walking op you should try to visit it a few times a week.

On days when the weather doesn't encourage outdoor walking (next month rainy season starts here) I'll either do all my walking in the morning before it usually rains, or head to a nearby mall that I've measured with a pedometer; one lap of that place equals exactly one mile. I'm also going to measure a couple of local museums where I have annual memberships to see how much of my goal I can knock off by walking through them.

How do you exercise most successfully? Let us know in comments.


  1. And the nice thing is, you live in such a beautiful place to walk.

    Three years ago I was nearly a cripple because of a bad knee. To make matters worse, even lying down was excruciating because of my back. (piriformis). At the end of my rope, I tried yoga. It brought me back to nearly my old self.

    I still have the bad knee, but doing yoga has strengthened the muscles around it so it supports the knee despite the lack of cartilage.

  2. Now that my pneumonia has mostly cleared up after 8 weeks, and my treadmill is finally downstairs, I'll start walking again. I have nowhere to walk here except along the edge of my semi-country road where people drive 60 miles an hour. That is just not for me. I'd walk the perimeter of the yard since we now have three acres and I could do that a couple times, but I too have a knee that doesn't move well and ankles that turn at the drop of a hat. If it's not a smooth walking surface, I don't do it unless it's just a casual/antiquing/museum type thing.You've encouraged me though. I think I'll start walking before I go to work. Starting tomorrow ;)

  3. Forgot to click the Notify Me button...grrr

  4. I love walking and hiking, and it's a necessity now that dog ownership has been forced upon me by other voting members of my household. (Good thing he's a nice dog!) I intend to do some biking this summer, and next winter I am buying snowshoes!


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