I’m now over half-way through the CARE Australia Walk in Her Shoes Challenge. 50 kilometres of walking in one week. And all that walking has given me time for reflection on the act of walking itself. This post includes some of the wisdom I’ve cogitated.
I’m just over half-way through the Walk in Her Shoes Challenge and so far, I’ve walked a touch under 30 of the 50 kilometres I’m aiming for. Who knows? I may squeeze in a few more kilometres around the house this evening. If you haven’t already heard about CARE Australia’s Walk in Her Shoes Challenge, or why I’m doing it, visit this post for the full explanation.
Anyway, all that walking has given me lots of time to think about walking itself, and to follow are some of the pearls of wisdom I’ve reflected on.
Walking takes time
The widely spouted recommendation is that we should each walk 10,000 steps a day. That is roughly 8 kilometres a day (a smidge over the 50 kilometres in a week). But what many people don’t realise is that 10,000 steps takes around one and half hours to walk. If you’re a reasonably active person during the day (say, you work on your feet) those minutes will quickly tote up. BUT, if you have a reasonably sedentary lifestyle (maybe you work predominantly at a desk) you have to actively schedule that time into your day. Every day. Phew.
Walking can be squeezed in
However, the opposite thought to the one above is that unlike many other activities, you can always squeeze in a walk. You’re not going to go to all the trouble of donning your bathers, swimming cap and googles to do two and a half laps if that’s all you have time for. But, you could easily get up from the desk and walk around the block if you just have ten minutes to spare. Or you can walk for the few minutes you’re waiting at school pick up, or walk up and down a couple of flights of stairs at the office rather than taking the lift. All those short bursts add up.
It looks like dog owners do a lot of walking
I’ve been walking to and from one of our local parks this week (and throwing in a lap or two of the oval while I’m there for good measure). And I’ve noted that a LOT of the people walking to and from the park alongside me, are dog owners. But I’ve also noted that once they get to the park, many of them stand in the middle of the oval and chat, while their dogs run about. So, they’re not walking as much as they look like they are. (Oh, and another reflection? Judging by what is being screamed out across the oval, dogs with names like Boxer or Rocky are the most likely to be causing trouble with other dogs.)
Walking is social
Walking can be a really social way to exercise. The Impossible Princess and I have been walking together to boost our Walk In Her Shoes totals this week, and we chat the whole time. Some of my most memorable conversations have been while walking with friends around The Tan (Melbourne’s iconic running track around the Botanic Gardens).
Walking links you to your community
Walking out your front door and past your neighbours’ houses, past the local shops, around by the school, past the fitness centre, can be a great way to get a handle on what is going on in your local community. I’ve said hello, and had a chat to many of our neighbours this week while I’ve been walking.
Walking brings all the detail into focus
You notice the details of the world while you walk. It’s easy to drive right past things without really seeing them when you are always in the car. This is a particularly pertinent point when you’re travelling. We like to hit the pavement and walk as much of a new location as we can, as soon as we get there. You see and notice so much more than you would from a taxi or public transport.
We were in London on 21 July 2005, two weeks after the tragic 7 July bombings, and the day that a second series of attempted bomb attacks disrupted part of London’s public transport system. We had been on the Tube just a couple of hours prior to the attempt, and after that incident we decided that for the rest of our stay in London we would walk everywhere (or use taxis if really pushed).
It ended up being such a different experience of London. Whereas on previous visits I had used the Underground extensively and just ‘popped up’ at the appropriate part of the city, this time I had a totally different perspective. I gained a real sense of the actual layout of the city.
We changed our plans to focus on activities and sights around a central point of Chelsea (where we were staying) and we really loved the slower pace. We noticed much more of the detail of the city.
Walking is great thinking time
There’s something meditative about both being in the shower and walking (not usually at the same time!). I can write the bulk of a blog post in my head while doing one of those two activities, and I can solve most of the world’s problems. Perhaps politics would be a different beast if Parliament was conducted on treadmills rather than cushy upholstered chairs?
It can be hard to find the time to walk
When I’m busy with work, or educating myself, or other commitments, setting aside time to get out and walk can be difficult. I’ve really had to focus this week on scheduling in ‘walking’ time to ensure I hit the 50 kilometre target.
But the flip side of this is that for many girls and women around the world, they are so busy walking out of necessity that they don’t have any time for education or earning an income. In this video, CARE Australia‘s Lyrian tried out walking and carrying water in Malawi, just like many women and girls do every day. It looks hard. I mean, really hard.
If you’re having to do that each day, just so that your family has access to water, it doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy for other activities. Which is exactly why we’re walking in her shoes this week.
The ‘family and friends’ team I’m walking as part of, set out to raise enough funds ($2,500) to fund a water system for a village (which should cut down the time the girls and women of that village have to walk for water). I’m pleased that we have not only made that target, we’re pushing on to raise even more.
What are your thoughts about walking?
This post is linked to the Flog Ya Blog Friday linkup at With Some Grace.