It’s been bikes, bikes, bikes at A Dude Abikes lately, and well, that tracks, because that’s the main pillar of this blog. For a change of pace, let’s talk about walk(ing). I’d love to be talken about Walken (as in Christopher), but I got nuthin’ to say about him except I like his acting. But yes, walking. I’ve been doing it regularly with only a few days missed for almost four years now. I don’t do power walking, hiking, or any crazy stuff like that. I just get out there, rain or shine, and perambulate for 30 minutes a day. That’s not too remarkable; many, many people walk daily, and for many, many more miles. Even having a streak isn’t that big a deal. But comparing myself to me, it’s an important thing to do. You might assume it’s an easy thing for me to do, but you’d be wrong. So I’m going to talk the walk.
People with a high Body Mass Index, the obese, chubsters, overweight, or whatever euphemisms you thin people need to feel comfortable with larger bodies, are actually accurately described as fat. Even so, walking may seem to be an entry-level activity, but it’s fraught with difficulties. Now, I’m not as fat as I have been, or as fat as plenty of people. And remember, I’m in the majority, because two-thirds of Americans are obese or worse. So don’t make us angry, or we’ll sit on you. Or not, because the thin are frequently walking all over us. Anyway, as mentioned in my previous post about chafing while cycling, that can also be a real problem for walkers. I’ve certainly experienced it, but more as a reaggravation of cycling chafing, or in the real hot part of summer. Not fun. Use ointments and lycra pants if it’s a problem for you, and as always ask your doctor.
Another issue is shoes, or more precisely, feet. Mine have a few issues, so at times walking is actually somewhat painful. For many, the obstacles to walking are a deal breaker, and they can’t do it. Maybe you need a treadmill at gym or home or even a swimming pool. I’ve had to do that when I had an injury. Some issues that could affect the feet include circulation problems from diabetes or neurological issues. Here you might be able to employ stretches, custom or over the counter inserts, pain gels, ice and/or heat, good socks, elevating them to rest afterward, Epsom salt soaks, or massage and reflexology.
I can always tell when it’s time for a new pair — of shoes, not feet! Good shoes are a must, but they cost money and not everyone always has what they need. Sometimes I can relate, especially since I need good walking shoes. So that’s another encumbrance.
Safety could be an issue, particularly if you’re a woman at night in an area prone to danger. Then you’d want a buddy, well-lit pathway, some self-defense skills or more likely some mace, a whistle, and the choice to walk elsewhere if you have that privilege.
Somewhat similar to that is you may not have a physically accessible and decent place to walk. Maybe you live in the high mountains of Nepal and walking is more like mountain climbing. A secluded desert, a small island, the poles. You get my drift.
Heart and lungs are other factors which might slow you down. Even though walking might help those with issues in those organs, at some point walking could actually be harmful. In which case you might need an assistive device, oxygen, or simply can’t do it.
But if you’re able to push through all the above challenges, and yours is more of a mental block, you may want to read a post I wrote titled Keep Walking Even i’s (Apparently) Not Doing Anything for You. It’s got some good tips for helping you stick to it.
For me, boredom of the neighborhood is a factor. But it’s more my thinking about it, or perception, than the reality. In actuality, I just have to look at a different angle, notice subtle changes to the trees, or houses, or yards to pique my curiosity. And while I said it’s hard to not be positive while walking, I’ve found that’s often not the case. It’s a great place to ruminate, which is often not useful. So that’s when other tips come into play, like music. People watching me walk may think I’m a little weird singing along to what’s on my headphones, but as long as I can hear a car coming, I don’t mind. If that’s not your jam, consider walking meditation.
In the end, I’m glad for my walking, despite it’s (apparent) lack of clear or dramatic benefits. I hope to be able to continue for a long time. So I won’t be graduating to running. Or rushing up mountain trails. For now what I do is good enough for me.
How about you? What do you notice about your walking practice? What is hard about it? Enjoyable?
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