Now we have been told by yet another government report that we should walk every day for twenty minutes in order to improve our health, I thought it was time to think about this rather obvious mantra, and think about why we don’t do it.
Regular readers will know I take my dog out every day. Although I am blind and disabled, I feel I must make the effort. Sometimes it really is an effort, and involves much sitting down and a need for sympathy and tea when I get back, and other times it is a delightful, life-enhancing part of the day. It is always interesting, even though I do the same route almost every time, and I meet friends and their dogs, and we talk about the weather and our lives.
However, if I’m really honest, my main motivation is guilt. Of course, I enjoy the walk for its own sake, but the main push comes from the undeniable fact that, even, or especially, when it’s raining I know I will feel guilty if I don’t take her out.
Before I got multiple sclerosis, I used to walk long distances on moors and cliffs and mountains. I know what that’s like, and I am desperately sad to have lost it. I ran regularly through my thirties, and was the fittest I have ever been. I would be grumpy if, for some reason, I was unable to run.
So I know what it’s like to search for the latest lightweight, breathable fabric, or to be haunted by the vision of finding the perfect shoe, but not everyone can see the point in all this, and not everyone is actually able to walk for the required twenty minutes.
So my advice to you is to forget all the ridiculous therapy-speak about guilt being a short word but a long sentence, and, instead, embrace the concept of guilt. If you want to motivate yourself to get out there and walk for twenty minutes every day you need to build guilt into it. Get a dog, but only if you really want one, or walk someone else’s dog. Dogs cannot have too many walks, and you will feel guilt towards the dog and its human owner. Arrange to walk with a friend who needs motivating more than you, so you’ll feel guilty if you let her down.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. The important thing is to feel guilty if you don’t go for that walk. The next step is to make it fun, so I’ll post some ideas on this as well in future posts. Let’s see if we can build a population of guilt-ridden walkers who can express their deeply-repressed rage through their healthiness!