I’m pushing myself with walking as my primary exercise

This morning, as part of my Noom program, I walked 3 miles in 54 minutes.

That seemed really fast to me, so I doubted the reading on my Letsfit fitness tracker, but I mapped my route with Google, and the distance was actually a bit more than that, so I went with 3 miles.

At almost 60 years old, I feel really good about that. That’s a brisk walk, and I never felt pressured physically. Well, a little weirdness in my left ankle, but that’s normal. I must have hurt it at some point in my life.

This is part of the positive influence that these electronic devices and the Noom program has had on me: they allow me to document and understand that I am really doing something, not just going for a stroll. I truly had no idea I was walking that fast.

Walking is an excellent form of exercise for us older folks. It helps improve heart health, lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s important.

There are times in my past when I’d have scorned walking as an exercise. Those were younger and fitter times. Back when I used to run half marathons.

In fact, my brother was a marathoner, which I admired, although I never aspired to that myself. However, I remember the day I found out he didn’t run the whole marathon. He told me he took walking breaks during it.

I was, like, “What?”

He explained that there’s a whole system of marathoning built around walking breaks. That ruined it for me.

I mean, if you’re “running” a marathon, to me that means running the whole way. I couldn’t even imagine making the completion of a marathon a goal, understanding that I’d be walking part of the way. Nope.

I’ve walked long distances. I walked a marathon — 26.2 miles — when I did the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands a few years ago. That was rough.

But participating in a marathon, calling oneself a marathoner, while knowing that I planned to walk part of the way? Years ago, I could not imagine that as a legit thing. And … even at age 60, I still can’t.

But that’s all beside the point, because I’ve always had great respect for walking as an exercise. Even strolling, I think, is good for the soul, as it’s relaxing, and, with the right company it can even be exciting and interesting.

When I was a kid in Germany, my friends and I used to go on Volkswanderungs (commonly called Volksmarches here) all the time. It was a regular weekend activity.

(When I was an adult in Germany, sadly the regular weekend activity was beerfests.)

These Volkswanderungs were 10k, 20k, and 30k. (10k is about 6 miles, so you can do the math for the others.)

I think maybe my love of walking grew from that. The Volkswanderungs would take us through the woods and small-town streets. There would be water and yogurt along the way. We were often precocious kids, ugly Americans: too louds, disturbing the tranquility. But we enjoyed ourselves, our walks away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

(Okay, we were kids, what hustle and bustle? Whatever. Roll with me here.)

Whatever the reason, I still love walking today, and I am learning to embrace it again.