When I lived in China, we walked or took public transportation nearly everywhere. When my Chinese friends asked me, "What do you do for exercise?" I laughed and answered, "I live in China." Four flights of stairs to my room several times a day, walking to the market, walking to class, etc. There were no "fast food" places that we could drive through - there were no pre-packaged pop-in-the-microwave-meals for us to prepare, there was no dishwasher in which to load our dishes. So there, even cooking, eating, and cleaning up demanded an expenditure of energy for us.
Coming home from living overseas, I have been amazed at how much the USAmerican culture depends upon autos for even the simplest of errands..and how quickly I succumb to the cultural norm of sedentary living. I mean, there are several mailboxes within blocks of my house, but I have been known to drive to them to drop off my netflix rental. Or have you ever taken 5 extra minutes to drive around a parking lot to get a parking spot close to the store when you could have just parked farther away and in less than 5 minutes achieved both exercise and the lack of frustration in trying to vie for a spot?
How might walking even a little bit more benefit my life and health...
- physical - obviously, most of us live pretty sedentary lives...sitting in our cars, at work, on the couch to watch TV. (And why is it I fail to sit when eating a quick meal???) At any rate, walking - whether it is to take the stairs instead of an elevator or to walk to a bathroom farther from you is a small change that will yield a greater healthful benefit over time.
- mental - Walking gets your blood flowing which also increases you ability to pay attention and be creative. Are you stuck - take a 5 minute walk around the block then come back to your work and notice the difference.
- emotional - again, activating your body even in a little way like taking a short walk or doing some stretches, can improve a dour mood. One of the remedies for depression, in fact, is to exercise - to get moving - to engage your body and emotions in the world around you.
- spiritual - a time to recenter your soul and reflect on the beauty around you.
- social - you can sit on your behind and IM people or you can actually go out into your neighborhood and interact with people. Why is it we send messages 20,000 miles into space to reach the person down the hall??
- financial - you save on gas money when you alternate a short drive with a walk. And you potentially defer future health bills by caring better for yourself now.
Sometime this week and weekend, pick one place within a mile of your home you usually drive to - the gym, a store, the mail box, and create space in your schedule to walk there instead of driving.
For a week, pick the farthest parking space away from the store entrance - and as you walk into the store, use the time to pray for whomever comes to mind.
Walking - one of the easiest, cheapest ways to take care of yourself!
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