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Photo by Flickr user Michael Koralewski (Creative Commons license). 

I have taken up walking.

What an odd thing to say. I am fortunate in that I have been physically able to walk every single day of my life so far. Most of us take that for granted.

I sit a lot. I sit at work. I sit to write. I sit for meals, and to snuggle with my kiddo. Sitting can kill you, ya know? Last year, CNN asked, “Is sitting the new smoking?” That provocative question entered my consciousness and hasn’t left. I recently procured a standing desk at work and can now switch back and forth between standing and sitting while I’m at the office, and I downloaded a no-joke pedometer app to which I’m quickly becoming addicted.

When it comes to fitness, though, I’m anti-gym. Put me outside on a hiking trail over inside on an elliptical any day. So when I decided I needed to combat the sentient lifestyle, I thought, I like walks. I should take more walks.

Kids like to walk, right? Edit: what kids like to do is amble. Taking Jax on a hike is a test of not endurance, but patience. He walks for 10 feet, stops to throw rocks in the smallest of puddles. Walks for 8 feet, stops to pick a flower. Walks for 4 feet, stops to look at a plane he might or might not hear in the sky. Rinse, repeat. These are nature walks, not hikes; and while I enjoy the opportunity to teach him things and see what he knows and thinks, and I do log some steps, it ain’t exercise.

I need to exercise more.

When on earth will I find time to do that?

I kept thinking I needed large chunks of time to move my body, and because my days are jam-packed, I was feeling a bit defeated. My smart phone came with a built-in pedometer and one day I checked out my average daily steps. Abysmal, with the occasional day of ten times the average, which I know were days I went for a hike or bike ride while Jax was hanging out with not-mom. I looked at the pedometer again the next day. And the next. A quick walk across campus to run an errand logged 1,200 steps. Nearly 1,000 just for a big trip to the grocery story. Huh.

Maybe I don’t need an extra hour or two in the day. Maybe I can take a few short walks throughout the day… DUH.

An obsession is born.

We now take an after-supper walk, about 15 minutes back and forth on the street in front of the house, which is never busy. Jax started full days at preschool last week, which means I don’t have to spend my lunch breaks running him from school to sitter, which means I can take a walk at lunch. We have breakfast in my office together every morning, and then we walk across campus to his classroom, and I walk back. Between the school walk, the lunch walk, and the after-supper walk, I hit 5,000 steps easy. The goal is 10,000. According to the Fitbit blog, “the benefits of a 30-minute daily stroll are nearly boundless, from slowing mental decline and lowering blood pressure, to improving sleep and relieving depression. One study out of California State University showed that mood lifted in correlation with increased numbers of daily steps, and researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that 30 minutes of walking each day cut stroke risk by a minimum of 20%.”

I don’t walk to lose weight. I walk because I’ve always loved taking walks, because walking keeps me healthy, boosts my mood, and gives me a little alone time. I notice more. I think deeply on those walks. I try out new music. And I make that pedometer app WORK.

Walking is also a low-impact way to heal and increase my awareness of my body–what it’s doing, how it feels, what it needs. We carry everything that’s ever happened to us in our bodies. Some of it I hold onto because it’s meaningful to me.

The rest? I’m trying to walk it off. Steps–10,000 a day, large and small, literal and figurative.

Are you a walker, runner, biker, hiker, swimmer, or gym rat? How do you make time to take care of yourself?