Walking is healthy exercise. Taking time out from your busy life is mentally healthy too.
A website recommends planning a 30-minute walk this weekend because “here in the age of binge watching and sedentary smartphones, that we all could stand to move around a bit more.” They aren’t wrong about that.
They have three pieces of advice: wear walking shoes, plug into your device—”Podcast, audiobook, or music, walking is the perfect time to get lost in something out of the ordinary. If walking isn’t particularly appealing to you, listening can also make the time go by faster”—and “bring a buddy.”
Plugging in and conversing with a “buddy” at the same time? Maybe choose? There might be conflict between the second and third bits of advice. There might be conflict between the second bit of advice and that desire to escape our ordinary plugged in existence.
Aside from the advantage for women of being obviously plugged in as a way of “tactfully” ignoring street harassment, being plugged in means we are less available to our surroundings, less attentive to both beauty and potential hazards.
Walking someplace, anyplace, that is green or wild or beautiful, or perhaps has traffic, might suggest that listening to surroundings would be better advice. Listening to a device just means a walker continues to carry ordinary life around like baggage. The point of going for a walk isn’t merely to escape the home, it’s to escape to someplace. Be here now. Listen to the wildlife. Listen to the air moving. Listen to our own thoughts. Seriously, if listening to our own thoughts is unbearable and we need electronics “to make the time go faster” maybe the most important reason to go for a walk is to slow time back to a human pace.
My husband and I walk at least each morning for 45 minutes or longer. Sometimes we walk side-by-side, sometimes we separate while Gary searches one stretch of beach and I search another. We go out early to avoid most other walkers—the visitors are generally plugged in with necks bent and their eyes focused on their phones. They walk the Pacific shoreline and are oblivious to their surroundings.
Local walkers all walk early. We see Tammy and Larry and John, who go out alone. We see other locals who come out to walk together, mostly with their dogs. We stop and chat sometimes. Other days we merely lift an arm in greeting and carry on.
Our walks are the most important time of our day. We hear the surf and the birds.
My advice for taking a walk this weekend:
- Wear good walking shoes
- and pay attention.