It took a lot of persuasion last Thursday to get me to go for my walk. I had had a bad night. Thunder and lightning – remember we're not used to this in Cape Town – until way past midnight, followed by a howling northwesterly wind and banging gates and shutters, and then at 6.45am a neighbour's puppy let rip.
I woke up with a headache and nausea and all I wanted to do was lie in for another half an hour. But then I thought of Monday morning, when I persisted and went walking in the pouring rain – I couldn't chicken out now. So up I got.
New walking shoes
I have new walking shoes. They wouldn't do for a trip to the Himalayas, but they sure get me round a few street blocks in the morning. It took a long time to find them – I don't do garish walking shoes and most of them look like psychedelic nightmares. These are black and subdued and blend in with the background.
The nice thing about walking in the morning – I am so not a morning person, so this sentence carries some weight – is that the air is so fresh, and it's nice starting the day with something that makes you feel noble.
I have now been doing this for six weeks, and three times a week I do the long route (25 – 30 minutes depending on how energetic I feel) and the rest of the time the shorter route. That happens on mornings when I know it's the short route, or nothing.
The neighbourhood dogs no longer bark at me (two sheepdogs, one Rottweiler and two Alsations), which makes me feel quite good. I have become part of the scenery. The Maltese poodle that bit me a month ago is now safely confined behind a high gate. I get nasty looks, but no more bite marks. Maltese poodles have never liked me. The feeling is mutual.
Corner café skinner
There is a corner café on my route and it has become part of the routine to pick up milk/bread/a newspaper and some neighbourhood gossip every morning. (The guy who delivers the pies is everyone's favourite, the immediate neighbours are having difficulty selling their house and two boys were extremely rude to the shop assistant the day before – I'll keep you posted.)
I find that I have more energy and that I sail through the working day if I have had a stiff walk in the morning. I can feel my blood circulation is better, and a recent visit to the pharmacy nurse revealed that my blood pressure has dropped significantly. It is now at the lower end of the normal range, whereas a year ago it was off the charts – medication and all.
And the bottom line is this: if I can do it, so can you.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, February 2008)