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Monday, August 17, 2015

Walk This Way

This morning, I walked to Tony’s, the grocery store five blocks south of where I live.  On the way, I stopped off at the Dollar Store and Chase bank, which took me a block farther west than I needed to go.  

Total round-trip: 1.5 miles.

This evening, I walked to Walgreen’s, four blocks to the north.  After making a small purchase, I then walked another two blocks west--an unnecessary detour that took me farther away, rather than closer, to where I live--before returning home. 

Total round-trip: 1.5 miles.

With those two walks, each to buy needed groceries and household goods, I had accomplished my usual 3-mile/day walk.

I first started walking in earnest not long after I found and brought home a dog in 1979, the one who quickly became my dog Rollie.  And it didn’t take me long to realize that this fellow was not interested in taking two or three quickie walks every day.  This was a dog who clearly liked patrolling the neighborhood—not just marking his territory—and that required lots more time than I was giving him.

And so he quickly behavior modified me into longer and longer rambles, which I then continued after he died 10 years later, and to this day.

A favorite stop-over for Rollie and me on our morning walk was the White Hen Pantry not far from our Lincoln Park apartment.  He’d stand outside and oogle me through the big glass doors as I bought a cup of coffee and a donut, the latter to share with him once back outside.

We’d then continue on for another 30 minutes before heading home, me to dress and go to work, Rollie to sleep off his half of the donut.

We’d repeat this ritual—minus the donut—at least two more times each day.

BR (Before Rollie), I didn’t do much walking; like most Americans, I drove everywhere, even when I was settled in the city.  But during Rollie, I’d become conditioned to moving in that very particular way, whether to walk my dog or visit the neighborhood bookstore or walk to the train instead of driving downtown.

And like any good-for-us habit, those daily walks became such a natural part of my life that I would feel out of sorts, both physically and mentally, if I missed them.  For which I am ever grateful to that strong-willed dog. 

And now it turns out that regular walking has benefits other than the obvious physical ones: especially as we age, moderate weekly walking can keep our brains well-tuned, a not inconsequential result of heading up the street to buy some apples.

For more on walking and aging, click here:

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