Solo Newsletter

Volume 12, no. 4

Walking—Obvious and Cheap Form of Exercise

By jennier j. rose

Physical exercise has such a bad rap. Despite all of the hard bodies, jocks, and gym rats out there, it’s probably fair to say that exactly half of those who’re reading this very column graduated in the bottom 50 percent of gym class. I know that I did.

Perfectly valid excuses for putting off exercise abound. For one thing, there’s the fear of getting hurt. You think I’m going to let someone bounce a soccer ball off my head just for kicks? Every time I think about getting on a horse, a vision of Christopher Reeve passes through my mind. For those who were the last picked for the 10th grade volleyball team, there is the lifelong fear of failing. The stylish sports of tennis and badminton require having a partner, and that means coordinating schedules. Then there’s the matter of having the right stuff—the equipment, skis, tennis rackets, bicycles, clothing, magic shoes, and headgear—which cost money. Or the right playing field: synchronized swimming and croquet both require certain venues.

Home exercise equipment sounded like the right solution. Having all that right at home would mean that I could exercise in the privacy of my own house, at any hour of the day or night, and no one would laugh. All of that was true enough, and, before long, the Nordic­Track treadmill and stationary recumbent bike became racks for clothing in the bedroom.

What was left—horseshoes? Competitive sleeping, power shopping, and aerobic computing?

It only took me 50 years on this planet to find a form of exercise that fit. Walking doesn’t require fancy clothing, special skills and training, a partner, or even a specially designed court. And it’s a skill most of us picked up shortly after infancy and honed through repeated trips to the refrigerator. How hard can that be? To get started, the only re­quirement was a comfortable pair of shoes. It’s hard to look stupid walking, it’s fairly safe, and it’s even harder to fail.

Deciding that walking would become my exercise regimen, I needed to establish some ground rules for the motivation that comes from breaking the rules:

• Walk no more than 20 minutes from the point of beginning, which means that the round trip will amount to more than a half-hour’s worth of exercise.

• Allow yourself a break on Sundays, state and federal holidays, and lunar eclipses.

• Don’t eat before exercising.

Amazingly, walking became my exercise—something I could actually enjoy on a regular basis.


jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, strolls the byways in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. Contact her at


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