Years ago, I was sitting with my grandfather, probably having a coffee somewhere, when someone walked up to him and asked how he managed to live so long. Without missing a beat, he said, “It’s because I walk every day.” Having lived until he was 99, I took his words to heart.
Since my mother never learned to drive, I always traveled with her by foot and public transit. As a result, I never defaulted to expecting a lift somewhere and knew that I generally had to get myself around. While I did own a car a couple of times in my life, I quickly soured on the responsibility of owning and maintaining them and found them to be a burden.
Now, without a car for almost 20 years, walking has become a significant part of my daily routine. On the other hand, I have been pretty reliant on buses, metros, and taxis, so other than a semi-regular walk home after work to stretch my legs, I was usually below 10,000 daily steps. Other than when traveling and exploring a city, that is.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, and I found myself at home 100% of the time, I felt very isolated and anxious. To burn off steam, I would go for a walk in the morning, sometimes at lunch, and for something longer at the end of the day. What started to happen is that week by week I kept adding a block and then another, until a 20-minute route eventually became 40 minutes.
I spent 2020 slowly increasing my daily steps so that I went from walking just over 10,000 steps a day to 17,000. By February 2021, I was averaging over 20,000 steps per day and haven’t fallen below a monthly daily average of 22,000 since then. Now, that end-of-day walk has extended from 40 minutes to an 80-90 minute average.
Will I keep this up?
As long as I’m healthy enough to do it, I will, since I’m proud that in my 50s, I’m now in the best shape of my life.