Is walking to keep fit solely for the elderly? A couple of months ago after facilitating my most successful KHL May Fitness Challenge, I was excitedly telling a friend about it, encouraging her to sign up for the challenge in 2023. I was flabbergasted when she declined with the statement, “walking is for old people” in Yoruba.
Walking is for old people?
I thought I’d heard it all over the 25yrs I’ve been on the health and fitness bandwagon. It turns out I haven’t. The statement, “walking is for old people” totally confused me.
If walking for fitness is for old people, then I’ve been old since my 20’s.
I was a quite a brisk walker in my mid – late 20’s. Friends and family often told me to slow down when I walked. I seemed like I was always in a hurry to get to my destination.
I didn’t realise the effect walking had on my weight till I started driving in my 30’s. When I switched from walking to driving, suddenly, my clothes started getting tighter and tighter. Less than a year after I started driving, I joined a gym and walking became something I watched others do whilst driving.
How I rediscovered walking to keep fit and became an “old” girl.
In 2011, I started putting together all sorts of nutrition and fitness challenges to motivate and get people to pay more attention to their diet and fitness. It wasn’t until 2018, when a friend suggested I do a step count challenge, that I got back into walking. I learnt few things about myself during my first step count challenge.
Firstly, it may sound easy, but it isn’t actually easy to get up, leave your house and go for a short walk, especially in the winter. I joined the gym in the year 2000 because I’d stopped walking. It quickly became easier for me to get into my car, drive to the gym for a workout than walk down my street. If I needed to go to the convenience store 3 mins from my house, I’d drive instead of strolling there. It became apparent that, to walk for fitness, I’d have to form and build on the habit of walking by doing it more often.
Secondly, I discovered I had an irrational fear of being attacked by a stranger whilst walking. This meant I mainly stuck to the main roads and avoided the many nice parks in my area. This changed after the summer of 2019 when (after a car accident), I started having issues with the noise level on major roads. Issues that forced me to ditch my fear and come off the main roads. Even though I still look back often whilst walking, I no longer have an irrational fear of being attacked.
Thirdly, I realised that, though I can now walk longer distances, I enjoy leisurely walking but dislike walking for fitness. I find it boring and time consuming. Boring because I’m solely focused on my pace. Great thoughts and insights can’t occur when one is preoccupied with pace. I found it quite comforting when Professor Daniel Kahneman said the same thing in his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”. If an eminent Nobel Prize winning economist and psychologist can’t walk fast and process deep things at the same time, who am I?
The time consuming bit is to do with calories. It just takes too darn long to burn a lot of calories when walking. I’m not trying to discourage you from walking, all I’m saying is, I’d have to walk for 2 hrs to burn off a chocolate bar. That’s a lot of time commitment for a chocolate bar.
Lastly, walking like every other physical activity is a skill that needs to be developed. You can’t develop it and be good at it if you don’t do it regularly.
Why would someone say walking is for old people?
What sort of mind would come out with this assertion? A mind that resides in a body that doesn’t walk and is looking for an excuse not to walk. A mind that refuses to observe and often makes wrong conclusions. That mind is a closed mind.
I currently walk 4 times a week in addition to spinning, HiiT, pilates and weight training,
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Walking is for everyone.