Walking

As Susan began to recover from a near-fatal drug reaction, one of the questions she asked her doctors was, “What can I do to help my recovery?” Her electrophysiologist responded, “Exercise. It’s probably the most important thing you can do. Something moderate, like walking. We recommend 30 minutes five times per day.” Seeing the look on our faces, he quickly recovered. “I mean five times per week. You can take a day off, but 30 minutes, five times per week.” We’ve laughed about the five times per day many times since that happened, but we’ve also been faithful to an exercise regimen. Rain or shine, wind or snow, we’ve walked at least a half hour eery day since December. There have only been a few days when we walked indoors. For the most part, we’ve walked outside. We walk in the city parks, in the National Forest, at area campgrounds, and around our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is filled with hills, so it is a good workout.

As we walk, I sometimes look at the others who are out and about. In our city’s parks there are a lot of dog walkers. We’ve observed responsible pet owners who are gentle with their animals, keep them on leashes and clean up after them. The dogs, of course, no nothing of social distance rules and often strain at their leashes in an attempt to greet us as we walk. Sometimes we stop and pet the animals with the consent of the owners.

We often see people who are out in our parks who are riding on electric vehicles of various types. Electric bicycles are becoming more and more popular. You can always recognize an electric bike from a distance if the rider is not pedaling and the bike is cruising at a good speed. I know that they make bikes that are for pedaling most of the time and the motor gives a boost on steep hills and other situations where needed, but we also see people simply riding on their bikes. And there are a wide variety of different types of electric scooters including hoverboards and one wheels. I’m sure it takes a bit of balance and practice and that there is a bit of exercise in riding those devices just as there is in snowboarding or skiing down a hill, but I always wonder why people are so interested in an alternative to walking. We enjoy our walks. We cover a couple of miles every day and see no reason to have a device to ride during our adventures.

Nearly half of the people we see when we are out on our walks have ear buds or some other type of listening device. Wires hanging from ears is a common sight when we encounter others. I love music and have invested a lot of hours promoting music groups and raising funds in support of the arts in our community. I’ve served on the board of directors of the Black Hills Chamber Music Society and the Bells of the Hills as well as the board of Allied Arts of Rapid City. I used to have a very eclectic collection of records before we all began to listen to digital music. I have an extensive playlist on my phone that I can connect vie blue tooth to my car and to a speaker in my shop. I enjoy listening to music.

Most of all I enjoy live performances. There are no ear buds that can accurately reproduce the experience of a great pipe organ. Acoustic instruments deliver the sound to your ears on a stream of moving air. The vibration of a 16 foot pipe is something you feel in your bones as well as hear in your ears. A symphony of 100 or more artists is a visual treat as well as a unique sound. I enjoy recordings of orchestras, but they are not the same as being in a concert hall.

However, when we are walking, I enjoy a sound track that doesn’t require ear buds. The sound tracks to our walks is gentle conversation and sometimes near silence. We listen to birdsong and the splash of the creek, punctuated by the occasional crack of a bat, if we are walking near the ball fields. We talk about the big things in our life, such as retirement and plans to seek a new place to live. We talk about the little things, such as what to cook for dinner and who is going to call the insurance company to report the hail damage. Sometimes we don’t have much to say to each other. Sometimes we are eager to talk about something important to us. Sometimes we have things to report from our day.

I remember walking with my parents when I was young. We nearly always walked to church. It was just a couple of blocks from our home. My parents frequently walked hand in hand. Later, when I was older, I realized that part of the reason they walked hand in hand is that they had very different strides. My father was a very fast walker and the only way my mother could get him to slow down to hear pace was to grab ahold of his hand so he was aware of how fast she was walking. I think that holding hands probably sped her up as much as it slowed him down, but it worked for them. We hold hands when we walk some of the time, but we’ve learned to adjust our pace to one that is comfortable for both of us. For the record, it is a pretty fast pace these days. We cover a mile in 18 to 20 minutes even when walking in steep places. We frequently pass other walkers who have a slower pace.

I’m grateful for the health that permits us to walk. I’m grateful for the simple pleasure of walking. Muscles and bone and nerves and circulation all working together to give us time to be together and to experience the world in which we live.

At this point in my life, I don’t pan to be a customer for any of the electronic devices that provide an alternative to walking.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!