Walking and My Grandma

Walking is a wonderful exercise. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. Now she is 97 years old and we don’t know where the hell she is!

Okay, don’t worry, that is not true. We know where she is. She is somewhere in heaven. Probably looking down and smiling at me and at my silly little joke. And the joke is from one of many e-mails I receive where some jokes are really funny and some are really stupid – I guess stupidity is meant to be funny.

Come to think of it, my grandma did like walking. Quite often there was no choice. We lived in small towns of Musoma and Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. And the best mode of transportation was our legs or bikes. We did not own a car. We walked or biked everywhere.

As a young boy, I remember holding my grandma’s hand helping her walk through the dark alleys and the roads of those small towns. There was no electricity. We used flash light or kerosene lanterns.

Every evening, my grandma would go to a prayer hall to pray and meditate. In fact, we would all go as a family – every single day! And one of us was put in charge of her safety. Those were the days of big extended families where we all looked after each other. There was nothing like nursing homes, group homes or assisted living. We took care of our own.

My grandma was in her 90s when she died. She had a severe case of asthma but she died of old age.

Medicine Hat reminds me of Musoma and Mwanza except it is bigger. But it is small enough to have everything within walking distance. But how many of us walk to work or go shopping?

Of course there are exceptions. Everybody is not lazy like me. There are lots of people who walk or bike to work and go grocery shopping. And there are many people for whom using a vehicle is important – for health and safety reasons.

Walking is not always easy. Changing weather and flu season is a hindrance to establish consistent walking habit. We are so seasonal in everything we do in a year that our brains are frozen in that mentality. And icy roads and side walks are dangerous.

But we do have many good days in Medicine Hat. The majority of the people (including me!) should be able to walk to most of the places. But the problem is we are always in a hurry to get to our destination and then rush back home. We never seem to stop and ask – why am I rushing? Why cannot I take my time and enjoy the walk?

You can walk leisurely 30 minutes a day for general health benefits. You can walk briskly to improve cardiovascular fitness by walking 30 minutes a day five days a week. If you are trying to lose weight then you need to walk briskly for 45 to 60 minutes a day five days a week. And make your dinner slimmer!

So, be like my grandma……… walk, walk, walk and be healthy and happy – you may even go to heaven!

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Thought for the week:

“The longer the explanation, the shorter the attention span.”

– From Images and Reflections by Dennis van Westerborg, a local artist and writer.

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