Before the plague hit and people began sheltering in their homes, walking was something most of us took for granted. It was something we did to get to the car or the bus stop.
These days, though, walking is a special treat, the highlight of the day. I’ve taken to going on walks with my wife each day, often following the same routes, and noticing things in my new neighborhood. I marvel at the wide variety of housing types in Frogtown. I look forward to seeing what the chickens who thrive in the backyard around the corner are up to on any given afternoon. I love noticing the infinite gradations of dusk, and how light changes in the sky. Most of all, I’m enjoying the slow-reveal of the buds on the lilac bushes by the apartments on the hill. Each walk is different but familiar, and it’s keeping my newly static life alive.
I reached out a while back to folks on Twitter about whether they’re doing more walking these days. Here are some of the stories I heard.
I have two teens and am a writer and grad student. I take walks to get them off their screens and for me, to take a break between writing sessions, or reading and writing. Having fewer activities, especially for them, makes this even more important.
My family has been self-isolating since Friday 3/13, and with two daughters age 8 and nearly 11, daily walks have been pretty essential for our physical and mental health. We’re fortunate to live about 1/2 mile from Minnehaha Creek, so that’s our normal destination. It’s fun to watch the levels of the water change, or amount of ice, number of ducks. We found a squirrel tail yesterday which caused a lot of entertainment and wonder. Sometimes we’ll play “follow the leader” on the walk to do various silly walks, lunges, skipping etc. One day we started kicking a small branch down the sidewalk. I alternated kicks with my 8 year old, watching the branch break and whittle down to a stub of a stick. When we got to the creek we tossed it in, watched it circle in a backwater eddy for a while, and eventually drift out into the main current. We walked along the bank until the next footbridge and went up there to watch it pass beneath us and disappear into some rapids and beyond.
We’re grateful for being close to nature and having the flexibility and resources – as well as the good health — to allow us to do this.
My girlfriend and I have definitely been going on a lot more walks during the pandemic. We live in a one-bedroom apartment and both started working from home about three weeks ago. It really cuts down on how much we move around during work hours. When I’m working at my office, I typically use any excuse I can to pop up and visit other work spaces, so just sinking into my couch while hunching over a laptop all day was messing with my mental and physical health.
We’re pretty avid walkers anyway, but these days we find ourselves going on a mid-day and evening walk pretty often. It really does just make everything better.
Today was the first day we struggled to maintain a six-foot buffer during our walk. It gets pretty crowded along the river near downtown, and it can be tough when not everyone is the same level of diligent. Despite that, I really do think the rewards outweigh the risks. And, I really don’t judge folks who aren’t nailing that berth every time. The walk is worth it.
Those are my thoughts! Thanks for asking.
Yes. For both mental health and for physical health.
The dogs are pent up since they’re not going to Dog Days right now. They’re loving the increased walks too.
We started a before-work walk tradition. It’s nice to remember there’s a world out there before settling down in our apartment all day. But my overall step count is way, way down.
This gal and I have been getting out every day. We run — albeit sometimes so slow my watch doesn’t register it. Today we had a lovely conversation with a man on a bike as we all watched a beaver building its dam. The human interactions have been a saving grace.
We have always walked a lot, but have shifted where we are walking. We’re avoiding the chain of lakes entirely due to overcrowding and sticking to the least busy neighborhood streets only.
Definitely more. In part because it’s replaced going to the gym but also it gives me a lot of joy to explore my neighborhood during this time.
This is a great way to reset after what can be a day dominated by negative messages, walking works surprisingly well, I hope to continue walking as much as I have been recently once things get back to a more normal routine.
N.B., Calgary, Canada
I am going on so many more walks these days and it’s been the part of the day that helps most to ground me and put my mental health first. I have spent a lot of time just walking and listening to books/podcasts/articles – and today was the first day in 2020 where I felt the heat of the sun. A welcome feeling given all that is going on.
Our house walks fairly often, usually only seeing a few dog walkers about each time. Now, under quarantine, we are seeing 10-20 people out walking. Huge traffic leap, and all throughout the day too.
Walking has been even more sanity saving than it was before. Either alone with my earbuds in, with @alrulz2009 to break down stuff the littles don’t need to hear, or the whole family getting fresh air and exercise. When I feel sanity slipping, I head for a walk and feel better.
I’ve always been an avid pedestrian, but taking long walks has turned into a necessity. Fresh air, a bit of exercise, a supremely normal and comforting activity in the middle of very strange and uncertain times. Seriously, get out there if you’re able.
If you haven’t yet made daily walking part of your quarantine routine, I highly recommend it.
I have also been learning about the surprising variety of housing in Frogtown by going for walks! I’ve lived here for almost three years, but there are still areas near my house that I’ve never checked out. I’ve also been enjoying documenting the construction progress on the Dale bridge.
Like some of the people in this article, I sometimes have a podcast or audiobook playing, but more often I’ll have a long phone call with friends I won’t be able to see for a while.