I do think most people underrate walking. You know how we all jump in our cars to run everywhere. For some, it’s necessary because there are no stores within walking distance of their homes. I’m fortunate in that there is an independent grocery store just down the hill from me. So I often walk down there, 10 minutes each way, to pick up whatever we need at the time. We all know walking is good exercise and it is free, requiring little beyond some comfortable shoes. But that’s not what I mean when I say it is underrated.
I recall when I was single and in college, going to a Summer program in another state. I was told there were bicycles available there, but it turned out that there weren’t, so all I had was my feet. I really enjoyed walking around the area, just to see what was in the neighborhood around the campus where I stayed. My explorations were solitary, but somehow quite refreshing.
Years later, when my husband and I were dating, we often took long walks together. As the kids came along, walking became something we could do together, though often it was in pairs. As the kids grew up, my son became quite independent, and preferred to walk to school on his own, instead of with mom and little sister. But my daughter and I have been walking to school together for 8 years now. Sometimes we also walk to the store together, or just go around the neighborhood.
Last fall, because she was entering Junior High, the walks got a lot longer. I could of course count on that as extra exercise, which would hopefully help me gain less weight. But I have come to see it as another bonus as well. You see, she is thirteen now and there are times when we drive each other crazy. But since we walk together, depending on our moods, we can talk a lot more than we would have time for if I drove her. In fact, on the occasions that I do drive her, we hardly seem to talk at all. It’s not that we never talk in the car, but conversations seem to require more than 5 minutes to get started. So, I think our primary communication takes place during those walks to school which take around 20 minutes. And it seems to function much like the time my son and I spent when I homeschooled him for one year. It helps change our relationship from adversarial to cooperative.
I think those times of sustained interaction with both my kids are why our relationship seems so different than what I grew up in. I admired my mother and wanted to be like her, but the teen years involved a lot of family fireworks. I remember being surprised several years ago to note that my kids came home and wanted to talk to me about their days at school. I couldn’t imagine that during my growing up years. Who knows how much of that was due to our different personality traits or different trends in child-rearing. All I know is walking has been a source of blessing in our family.
That’s why I say walking is underrated. I watch the cars zooming past to dump their kids off at school and think they don’t know what they are missing. Not only would it be healthier for all concerned to walk, in the physical sense. It very often makes a difference on the level of family relationships as well.