Monday, February 25, 2008

Why I Walk

The following begins an occasional series on things I've listed in my Blogger profile.

I walked to the supermarket yesterday. A few days before I bought some pinto beans from the bulk bin and after I got the beans started I decided to add some ham to them. They have ham steaks at that market for just a couple dollars, so that's where I went. The walk takes 15 minutes or less, and it was a pleasant day out, not too hot but with lots of sunshine and a few friendly clouds. I didn't see any other pedestrians on my walk, just a few kids on bikes. Now, I always wonder why more people aren't out walking on such a nice day. The next door neighbor, for example, always gets in his truck even if he's just going to the corner convenience store for beer, just a block away. In fact, as I was getting back from my walk, he was pulling up to his drive with some more beer. Does beer make you lazy? I'll tackle that question another time, what I really want to know is, where are all the walkers?

Walking is listed as one of my "interests" on my blogger profile, and it really does qualify as such. I've always enjoyed walking, although I don't walk everywhere all the time (no one can) and I do sometimes feel too tired or just a bit lazy to the point that I take the car for even a short trip. But most of the time, when I can, I walk. It is an exercise I will be able to practice for the rest of my life (barring some unforeseen event) and that's one thing I like about it, you're never too old to go walking.

When I worked in San Diego doing customer service for DIRECTV I got in the habit of walking around the block (it was a long block, a half hour walk at least) at lunch time. I always felt better after, even if on occasion I was a bit sweaty as I walked up the final incline back to our building. Sometimes I would just walk to get something to eat and not walk the whole route. There is a food court down the hill from where we worked and most of my coworkers would hop in their cars for lunch, even if they were just going down the hill. I remember one time a young guy in sales walked down to the McDonalds and he complained when he got back about walking back up the hill and how he would NEVER do that again. These were young people, not over thirty in most cases, and yet to even suggest walking anywhere to them (as I sometimes did) would get you a look as if you'd asked them to fly to the moon. I still don't understand that. I got so much out of those walks, enjoying the sounds and the trees along the sidewalk and the familiar sights as I made trip after trip as the months wore on. I miss that walk, but there are, thankfully, an endless supply of great walks, and I'm just now starting to get used to my walks to the grocery store and when I move (as I will, its inevitable) I will find new walks to inspire me and to enjoy.

One thing I don't recommend is to stop walking for any significant amount of time once you've started. I did that at one point due to things going on in my life at the time and found that I quickly got out of shape. I regret my lack of walking then, because not only was I not getting the extra exercise, but I now realize my mood was affected also.

To stay in shape, to get ideas, to meditate, to think, to be alone, to feel better, to notice things you never will from a car, those are some of the reasons I walk. You should give it a try sometime.

I just wanted to add that walking is a great way to take a break as well. When I as selling Directv and depending on commissions for my income I would often take a break by walking. It really helped to relieve the stress when sales weren't going well (dealing with people who called about the service and asked you a million questions but refused to order until they talked to their husband or checked around or some other lame excuse got very frustrating at times) and this was even recommended by our sales manager, although no one but me took the advice. I did take it and walked with it and took advantage of it by taking more than one walk a day at times. Of course when I moved to customer service (a long story) I no longer had the freedom to take as many breaks for as many minutes as I could get away with. They never minded when I was in sales, though, because I always did well and they were paying by sales commissions, not hourly. So, go ahead and talk a short walk if you need to relieve some stress and improve your mood, it really helps.

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