Walking, and why we should do it everyday

We spend on average 9.3 hours a day sitting on our bums, this is more than the average 7.7 hours we spend asleep. Now I’m not tied to an office job I want to spend more time outside, more time walking. But it’s often easier said than done.

I know how good going outside is for me, I know that I tend to have a better day if I go outside early on (or at least before 12pm). But I often don’t go outside to walk aimlessly because I feel self-conscious doing it. Some other people my age feel the same. Is it an age thing? Because we spend more time indoors, on our screens, connecting but protected by the virtual-ness of it all?

Walking is good for you

In her short TED talk Nilofer Merchant extols the benefits of walking. Saying how she used to think she could either take care of her health, or her obligations but not both. Now she makes her meetings walking meetings and takes care of both together.

 “fresh air drives fresh thinking” – Nilofer Merchant

I don’t have many meetings in person, but I will try to make those I do have walking ones. Plus I’m going to think about what other daily tasks I can do whilst on the move. I also really want to accept that walking aimlessly is okay, that I don’t always have to be fulfilling some bigger purpose.

Today’s walk

Walking amongst wintry treesAs I tie the bin I am decisive, I place it by the door. “I have to go out now “– I think – “can’t leave the bin rotting by the door”. Blue sky peeks in at me through the window, tempting. It looks nice. I sit down and look at my phone. Now is the moment, I could waste time on Facebook and then probably not feel like going out once I pull myself back to reality. Or I could do what I do. Put on my coat, hat, scarf, gloves, shoes. Open the door and step out into the world. Leave the phone on the table.

"I have to go out now"

I go to the bin across the street. My task complete I could retreat back to my cosy inside lair. Except it doesn’t feel cosy if I don’t go out, more like a cage. Constricting. A cell. I walk on.

Bare trees line the street, they look strong and proud standing there naked against the blue sky. I go on. Looking in windows (eternally nosy), watching the van trying not to reverse into the bin. Someone moving out or new people moving in?

At the corner I pause. There’s a garden up the hill and down the road, it’s small but it has nice trees and a view of the sea. I could go, but I don’t. Something pulls me right, away from the garden and towards the local shops.

Walking aimlessly by the shops alone feels okay. In the garden I don’t have a purpose. No dog, no companion to talk to. Could make a phone call, but I don’t want to.

The sun on my back feels nice, warming. I take a breath and enjoy the freedom of having no bag on my back – being able to walk at 11am and not be sat in an office. I’m smiling, someone smiles too – perhaps they’re in on the secret of walking aimlessly around?

How often do you walk? What do you do to help yourself walk more each day? Where do you like to walk in your neighbourhood? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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