Please walk, if you are able.
In the Lutheran liturgy, when it’s time to stand the minister always says, “Please stand, if you are able.” I love that last part. While on chemotherapy, just showing up was all the energy I could muster, and I did not stand. Some people use wheelchairs or canes and standing may not be possible. Some days, some bodies are riddled with pain. Likewise, it is often the case, that we can stand. Or in this case, walk. Walking is one of the simplest ways for most people, most of the time, to move.
It’s no wonder urbanites tend to clock more steps on average than the rest of Americans. It is not easy to get around without a car in most American cities. A few years ago, we traveled to Europe. We relied completely on public transportation and our own feet. We walked a minimum of 15,000 steps a day and climbed countless flights of stairs. Only 8 months out of chemo, however, I was quite exhausted climbing all of those stairs in and out of the Metro stations and up the Arc de Triple! When we returned home, I wanted to continue eating like we did in Paris with all of the butter, ham, and croissants, but I was not walking nearly as much. It was not long before I had to order new pants.
A Walkable Neighborhood
With all of the medical bills rolling in during my cancer treatment, we looked for ways to reduce costs. We decided to sell one of our cars and become a one-car family. We were able to do this because of where we live and the proximity to public transportation and the numerous places we can access on foot.
In fact, this location was one of the most attractive things about our home. We are not downtown, but we can walk to the city center or take a quick bus ride. We wanted to be able to garden and have a place for our child and border collie to play, so we looked for a home just outside the downtown. We are across the street from our church and a shopping center that includes our bank, the post office, our preferred grocery store, etc. My husband telecommutes most days and the days he heads into the office, he can take the commuter rail.
10 Ways Life is Better on Foot
1.) It’s Great Exercise.
Truly, walking is one of the best exercises that most people can do. Take it from Outside Magazine.
2.) It Helps Lower Your Stress.
I live in the Washington, DC metro area. Ever sit in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour? There is no shortage of road rage, even this far from Washington. When I arrive at my destination after sitting in traffic for and hour, I am cranky and stiff. When I arrive at my destination after walking for an hour, I’m invigorated and happy!
3.) You get to see a part of your community that you usually miss.
You really need to pay attention to not crash into anything while you drive. When you walk, you need to pay attention as well, but you can also notice beautiful flowers that grow in the cracks of rocks and the people you pass by. You can bend to pet a cute doggo. You can stumble into hidden parks or a magical Fairy Ring. You never know what you’ll find.
4.) It’s good for creativity.
I get my best ideas on walks. If I’m stuck, I tie my shoes and go around the block.
5.) You can catch up on podcasts, talk to a friend, or learn a language.
I love to walk and listen to my own thoughts, but there are also times when it’s perfect to catch up with an old friend, or listen to a podcast. Since I enjoy studying French, sometimes I’ll listen to a French audiobook while I walk.
6.) Your dog will be better behaved.
A tired dog is a good dog. So much of poor dog behavior can be remedied simply by exercising your dog. There is no better way than by going on a walk!
7.) It’s better for the environment.
Cars are really, really bad for environment.
8.) It can be a spiritual exercise.
“I don’t like either the word [hike] or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not ‘hike!’ Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre’, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”– John Muir
9.) Fresh air is good for your immune system.
Not just your immune system, but your mood as well. I don’t sleep well if I haven’t gotten at least 10,000 steps.
10.) You are more likely to know your neighbors.
You are more likely to know your neighbors if you see them on walks. Many our our neighbors, I know because I first met their dogs.