Out of the house, into the car, forty feet.
Out of the car, into the office, two hundred feet.
And back again.
At that rate it would take more than a week to walk a mile—and almost a year to walk thirty miles. Yet many of us who work in offices and shops or who stay at home most of the day have virtually forgotten how to walk. Oh, we still put one foot in front of the other to get from the living room to the kitchen, but the pleasure—and perhaps more important, the exercise—are gone from the steps we take.
When most of us think of exercising we imagine ourselves huffing and puffing with barbells, or down at the gym playing handball or tennis. But one very good form of exercise requires no special equipment at all. Just feet, stockings, and shoes. And the only thing you pay is time—which is more than paid back to you in increased health and a great deal of pleasure.
Of course, to be really valuable walking has to go on for a while at a good, brisk pace. A walk around the yard doesn’t do the job. But a half hour or an hour five days a week can help you find muscles you didn’t know you had, and remind your heart that sometimes it will need to go out of low gear!
But time is money, the adage says. How can I spend an hour every day just walking? The most obvious answer is another question: How much is your health worth to you?
There are many ways to make your walking time fit into your schedule painlessly. Why not park the car a mile away from work? The walk in the morning and evening certainly won’t hurt you. One couple walks for an hour every night before going to bed. Though they keep up the quick pace necessary for the exercise to be really valuable, they also manage to talk together, making their evening walk a time of special closeness.
The early morning is also a good time. Though in some areas it can be quite cold in the winter, that’s just a spur to walk a little faster so you warm up! And you’d be surprised how much better you feel arriving at work awake and invigorated from good exercise instead of weary and wishing you were still in bed.
Where can you walk? Your neighborhood is an ideal place. Not only do you get to find out what your surroundings look like, you may find you make new friends on your walks. There are a lot of nice people around that you never notice when you whizz by in a car.
Many of us live within a reasonable distance of a park, where early morning walks might lead us to discover that we really aren’t as far as we thought from the beauties of nature. Or if you live near a college or university, a walk across campus, where traffic is usually somewhat restricted, can be a pleasant—and sometimes mind-stretching—experience.
Vary your route. There’s no reason why you have to trek the same path every day. Where does your street end? What’s over that hill? What does the other side of that building look like? Are there any elms on Elm Street?
Of course, you don’t want to start out walking twenty miles. Chances are you wouldn’t be walking much for the next few days, especially if you haven’t been doing any other exercise. But once you start, don’t stop. You’ll feel tired after your first several walks—it’ll just show you how badly you need to be doing more. After several weeks, however, you’ll wonder why you ever used your car for little trips under a mile or two. It isn’t as far as you thought it was to the grocery store—and it’s even closer when one of your children walks with you, giving you a chance to talk and get to know each other better.
There are other forms of exercise that get you in shape faster, if you want to—some very vigorous sports, running, jumping rope, calisthenics. But not all of us are athletes, and some of us get tired of “up-down-three-four” sooner than those who are more dedicated. We want to be fit—but we always quit our exercise program before it can do us any good.
If you’re one who feels that way, put on your sweater, open the door, and discover the world. Feet can be used for many things besides pushing gas pedals and running a sewing machine.
They can even lead you into a more pleasant, healthy, happy way of life.
Don’t just stand on your own two feet. Walk on them.