The Thrill of Getting in a Lot

On Monday, my Health App on my iPhone read 23,143 steps by the end of the day, or 15.5 km. I was pleased.

It was a statutory holiday where I live. Which provided the opportunity for my day to start off with a light 5km jog on my usual route. It was a bit chilly at 9 am, about -4 degrees Celsius. But it was sunny and the sidewalks were dry. Dressed properly, this is ideal February jogging weather in Toronto.

I had plans to go for lunch and to an escape room with friends that day. I asked my husband if he felt like walking there and he said sure, so we did (50 min walk). I assumed we would take public transportation back, but high on our successful escape, walked back as well. It was so inviting on such a beautiful day.

It is not unusual for me to walk somewhere I am going, given the right weather and shoes. I walk to work about three-quarters of the time. If I need to go somewhere within an hour’s walk, and I have the time, I go for it. My love for urban walking, prompted me to sell my car a few years ago. The 14-year old car showed only 60,000 kms on the odometer and I was using it much less after moving to a more downtown address.

It’s not only walking that I enjoy racking up the distance with. When I went to spinning classes on a regular basis, I loved going to the special 3-hour spins that they organized.

Long walks, long runs, long spins, and long baking and pasta-making sessions(!), provide me with the type of active meditation that my mind craves. Continuous movement, focussing on one foot after the other, or forming one cookie after the other, allows all of my brain’s open tabs to flow freely, without too much analysis on my part.

Walking can have its nuisances in a city. I’ve mentioned before, my annoyance with golf umbrella holders, absent-minded wanderers who don’t yield for people coming in the opposite direction, reckless drivers who treat pedestrians like an obstruction that they wouldn’t mind hitting, just to get them out of the way.

But the alternatives to walking are not much better in a busy city anyway. A public transit system that has outgrown its capacity decades ago, coupled with politically-driven decisions about it’s improvement, means vehicles are often stuffed beyond capacity. These circumstances can bring out the worst in humanity. And driving within the city, during rush hour, or any other busy time of the day, is ill-advised from any rational angle, unless absolutely necessary. At least with walking, the movement of your feet, promotes the good feelings that come with activity. The endorphins. The creative sparks. The appreciation for a body that allows you to walk.

The joys of walking outweigh any minor nuisances for me. Within a few steps of the office, the corporate world is left behind. Some steps provide a distraction from familial concerns and existential thoughts. And also, a sense of balance about what wellness means to me and gratitude for the luxury of time for those thoughts. And the longer the journey, the better, IMHO.

Here’s to the joy and gratitude of getting in a lot of it. Do you like to walk (or do another activity for long periods of time)?

Nicole Plotkin is a law clerk who works out regularly, enjoys food in all forms, enjoys time with her husband, family, friends and two dogs.