Someone stole the seat of my exercise bike. It stands under the veranda in the back garden. In order to steal this, someone must have either negotiated the neighbours' dogs, a razor-wire fence, or a seven-foot vibracrete wall. A disturbing thought.
I replaced the seat with great difficulty, but I suspect the thief did some damage in the thieving process. It's just not comfortable and it shifts around.
At about the same time I read on Health24 that a walk of nine minutes a day reduces one's chances of a heart attack by 50%. I gave up walking after being mugged a few years ago, but suddenly decided that it was time to get over it and hit the road again.
I am fat and I am unfit, but nine minutes a day anyone can do. And increasing this by one minute a day means that I am now up to twenty minutes a day. Might not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to me. But back to the start.
I dusted off my walking shoes, and went on an archaeological dig to find my walking outfit. (I used to just do the exercise bike in my pajamas.) I chose my time carefully – I start at eight sharp. All the schools in the area start then, so this means I don't have to deal with large numbers of uniformed youngsters on my morning walk. There are just enough people about to make me feel safe in a suburban sort of way. People in dressing gowns watering lawns and so on.
The good thing about walking is that you start off in energetic fashion and get yourself several blocks away from home – and even if you're tired, you can't give up, because you still have to get back. Whereas on the exercise bike, you are at home and can stop any time.
I have a set route I follow and if I get home before the time is up, I just keep walking until the alarm on the cellphone goes, and then turn back. Works for me.
I have found it good to start the day by doing something that is purely for myself. My aim? To finish a 5km walk comfortably by the time my birthday comes around in March. This will be my present to myself.
Next week – read about my less-than-pleasant episode with a Maltese poodle three blocks away from home.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, January 2008)
Here's more on walking for exercise and fitness.