Like a lot of people, I’ve gone through phases of gym-going over the years – namely when I lived about 30 seconds away from one and passed it every day, so had no real excuse not to. Then again when I first met my now husband and we went together as a kind of healthy date in the early days (which meant me quietly ditching the baggy jogging bottoms and investing in Sweaty Betty’s finest drapey jersey). But I cut up my last membership card long ago.
We also used to enjoy playing tennis every now and again on the local courts – which was fun (if a little too competitive) and a good way to have a work out in the great outdoors. But my favourite exercise has always been walking. Not just popping up the road but going for lovely long walks at the weekend and walking into work (which took a good hour and a half) at least once a week with my sister.
Then, when I was on maternity leave and had finally mastered the art of leaving the house with absolutely everything I needed crammed into a changing bag, I would go for long walks with Scrip safely muffled and tucked up in her pushchair. This was one of my favourite times – I made sure I had a purpose (not hard – there was always another tube of metanium that needed buying) and I’d set off at a briskish pace.
One of the best things about those walks was having so few time pressures. Rather than mentally mapping out the shortest route from A to B, I’d meander, exploring the roads nearby, finding a nice new mews or a new bit of outdoor space and enjoying cutting through parks and along tree-lined streets. Having had a March baby, my maternity leave stretched over the summer months, and the weather was (mostly) fine. And I had a lot of time on my hands.
I still try and walk everywhere with Scrip on my days off, but unfortunately, for my four working days I’m mainly sedentary, and I’m feeling all the more sluggish for it. Work’s been so busy that even popping out at lunchtime is a luxury, and meetings within walking distance are rarer than they were before.
I know very well that the exercise that works best is the kind you can fit around your daily life. Whilst I may still find the time to walk in occasionally this summer, I’d prefer to spend a little more time with Scrip in the mornings if I can. So this week I dug out and dusted off the pedometer that I was given a while ago and started wearing it, to track how far I actually walk each day and work out what more I could do. And it’s been really helpful so far.
I’m aiming for 10,000 steps a day – on my first day, when I was running around with Scrip and some other little ones I did around 8,000. On an average work day it’s about 7,000. But I’ve found that by keeping track I’m encouraged to do a little more walking. I’m even following that classic women’s mag-style advice and today I actually got off the bus a stop earlier and walked up and down the work stairs rather than waiting for the lift, all in a bid to reach my 10k target.
Small steps, as they say – and I’m going to try and build on this and try to fit in more energetic activities. But if this encourages me to do a bit more exercise each day – and judging by the fact I’ve just popped upstairs to grab my laptop charger instead of asking my husband to bring it down, it is doing – it will be a good start.