Walking. I’ve been doing it for 74 years but I never want to take this miraculous skill for granted. Many of my friends have crook knees or ankles. Some have cranky hips or ceramic hips or bad backs. Some have MS or asthma or bronchiectasis. I’m humbled by their courage and ingenuity as they continue to get around, one way or the other.
Walking is tangled up with independence and free will as well as health and fun.
Walking is also linked to youthfulness. Not-walking is a fear associated with old age.
This obvious fact hit me like a ton of bricks when a friend came to stay recently. A whole bunch of odd problems had me worried. At pedestrian crossings, I had to restrain her from rushing across when the red man said Stop; her default setting was to jaywalk. She was confused about distances and directions and buses and taxis. She rushed ahead, leaning forwards at an angle, then stopped often to take a breath. I’m pretty slow on the uptake, but after a couple of days, I finally got the message: she was in the early stages of dementia.
Dementia interferes with everything, including the act of walking. I am grateful to my friend: indirectly, she taught me heaps.
Walking is simple, natural, automatic, free, always available day or night, no trainer, gym subscription or special equipment required. Yet it’s a skill that can be eroded by illness or accident.
After my friend’s visit, I love my legs more than ever. I plan to love them and use them and learn from them for many more years In fact I may found an international leg-appreciation society, and be a member even if my legs stop working one day.
Phone apps for walking
Breeze used to be my favourite phone app. Its daily cheerleading made me much more aware of how far I was walking each day. I wiped the app one day when my phone was overloaded with data. Now I want Breeze back again, but my phone tells me I have to get it through the Romanian app store. Romania? I dunno. Beats me.
With a compatible app, you can acknowledge walking as a substantial component of your exercise regime instead of a tedious necessity for getting from A. to B. Even if you find that you take only 400 steps on a typical day, that’s not a tragedy, it’s an opportunity. Think what satisfaction you’ll get from graduating to 500 steps, then 600. Little by little, step by step. And you’re never alone in this enterprise with Breeze at your fingertips.
Mechanical toy via Internet Archive Book Images, from Scientific American March 1903. Shadow legs by Rachel McAlpine, CC ID 3.0