Taking a good long walk for myself

As I’m getting older, it’s becoming clearer that I need to do more exercise. I am quite desk bound during the day and, unless I make a conscious decision, my weekends and evenings are spent ferrying children to sporting activities and not actually doing any exercise myself. I’ve noticed that I stiffen up a lot more than I used to, I can’t eat as much as I used to (well, I can, but the results are obvious) and I don’t have the same energy that I used to have.

The trouble is finding exercise that I enjoy and commit to. Although I love tennis, I work (virtually – might as well be) full time. Between my husband, kids and my own set commitments outside of work, I’m resisting locking into a regular team sport – life is locked into schedules enough. I wish I loved running – it’s so time efficient, flexible, and can be done pretty much anywhere – but I don’t really enjoy it. And I’m a very poor swimmer, so that’s not a very effective form of exercise for me. Despite that, I am trying to improve my swimming though more frequent times at the pool and covering longer distances. I do (less often than I should), go for a (short) run, knowing that it does me good and maybe, some day, I might start to like it. And then, of course, there is cycling … I wax and wane, but it’s good from time to time. Periodically, I’ll try yoga, or pilates, or similar, but I tend to find my enthusiasm slips away after a while, and then I try something else.

One thing I do like, however, is walking. I enjoy meandering strolls through my neighbourhood and less well known areas, absorbing the differences and seeing the character of the place and, by inference the people, reflected through the variations in the buildings, shops, landscape and public realm. I am energised by striding through city streets, through new precincts, on a mission to get from A to B – plus enjoying the journey in between. And I love the opportunities to discover or reconnect to some of our beautiful walks through the state and national parks around Melbourne (and closer in) – there is always something new to see.

By myself, in pairs (with my husband or a friend), as a family outing or with a group – I enjoy walking in all its forms. So much so, I’ve just signed up to be part of an Oxfam Trailwalker team next April which, given it covers 100km, will take the distance I will be walking up quite a notch during the preparation and the event itself.

So it was great to read today that not only is walking good for my physical health, but also my focus and attention. ‘Feel like going for a walk? … That sort of downtime, when you’re not thinking directly about what you’re trying to learn, or figure out, or write about – that downtime is a time of subconscious processing…the mind wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected’ (reference here)

The added benefit?

IMG_3660Meet the most beautiful dog in the world who refuses to face the camera (other than to lick it!) A challenging subject to photograph

Poor Rosie is often neglected, and, as she is ageing too (quicker than me, I might add), she needs her regular walks. If I walk more frequently I get to spend more time with Rosie who knows how to strike a great balance between being a good companion but not being chatty or distracting. The ideal walking partner when I need time out just to contemplate and think. Now that Spring is here, I am no longer going to talk about the walk, I am going to make more of an effort to walk the walk – more frequently and for longer distances.

What’s your ‘go to’ exercise?

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