Tag Archives: Amish

Walk this way

I don’t belong to a gym or fitness club. There’s no room for home gym equipment where I live, even if I was moved to spend money on something like a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing machine, which friends, I am not. These items make up my home exercise equipment:

Five-pound handweights and push-up bars

Five-pound handweights and push-up bars

A hoola hoop - because anything is better than sit-ups or "crunches"

A hoola hoop – because anything is better than sit-ups or “crunches”

I’ve got a jump rope too but nowhere all that practical to be jumping rope. Sometimes I jump inside and try not to smack anything.

All that being said, fitness and staying in shape are important to me, a central part of my life philosophy, so I get outside a lot. That’s a good bit easier when the weather’s decent but I realized a long time back, you can’t sit around 3 months out of the year waiting for weather conditions to improve. (Things can really go South in that time if you do. I’ve never forgotten what a fitness teacher said in an exercise class I took many years ago: that it takes six weeks to get in shape but just two to fall out. It ain’t fair but there it is.)

I walk. I’ve walked for years. I make myself walk.  I recently read that the Amish have an obesity rate of less than 5% AND they walk 14,000 steps a day. (Curious about their life expectancy, I just checked and found it the same as the rest of the population.) I am fortunate to live in a community where it’s possible to do a fair amount of walking while generally staying out of the flow of traffic. And besides, I don’t have a car which certainly lends itself to more walking.

However, I think people feel sorry for me! Sometimes I get offered rides when I’m walking on purpose. One time, I was in the adjacent town, several miles from home, where admittedly it was kinda hairy be walking, at least in some areas along the road, where there was no public sidewalk. Three people offered me rides and I started to feel guilty! I realized, in retrospect, that I was dressed too nicely, as if my car had broken down or I was stuck out walking along the road for an unfortunate reason. (I dressed a lot more casually, scruffier, the next time I walked the same route and was offered no rides, lending credibility to my theory.)

I think what has happened culturally, at least in this semi-urban area, is that walking on purpose has become weird, particularly for a “nice, middle-aged lady” like me. What is she doing out there? She should get a car and drive to the gym – I really think, whether they’re conscious of it or not, that that is what people believe. They don’t see the point in walking. I know that’s not true for everyone – thousands of people belong to local hiking groups – but that’s more about driving somewhere scenic and then walking around, as opposed to walking in your everyday life (which ain’t always so scenic and involves dodging cars).

The longest trek I’ve done locally – and not too recently – is two miles out to a big park which has a 5.5 mile trail through the woods, and then 2 miles back home. I’ve even biked over and locked up the bike while I walked the trail. I’d rather do that than say, go over to the high school’s outdoor track and walk around in dull circles with a boring view of a housing development and a road.

The thing that is worth saying, is that I almost always feel better after I walk, especially if I get in a couple miles. Probably need that many in order to have endorphins kick in. A walk to the corner mailbox does not endorphins make.

When the weather is bad and wicked cold, I go out so I’ll appreciate how nice it is to come home and get all warm-and-cozy. Although, it occurred to me recently, in a spate of cold, snowy, low-temps weeks, that my thinking might be a little like the old joke about a guy who hits himself in the head because it feels so good when he stops.

I want to walk because I can. While I can. For as long as I can.