This past month, I’ve been walking to and from campus every chance I get. I’ve also been walking anywhere else I need to go – to medical appointments, the hairdresser, and the bank. Now that we’re firmly settled into autumn – easily my favourite season – I wanted to regularly spend some more time outside, enjoying the cooler weather, falling leaves, and wonderful colours. To do this, I’ve started walking as much as I possibly can. I started in September, with errands to the grocery and hardware store, going to visit friends, and trips to the library. As the semester geared up and I started spending more time on campus, it made sense to try walking there as much as possible, too, and I’ve been gradually spending more time each week just walking around.
First, I think it’s actually saved me a bit of time. If nothing else, it hasn’t taken me all that much longer to walk than it has to take the bus. My walk to campus is about 40 minutes, door to door. I noticed that although the bus ride is only 15 minutes, I also have a five or ten minute wait – if not more – on either end. Plus, walking takes the place of the 40 minute run or hour long bike ride that I’d usually take for exercise while still helping to keep me healthy in a very inexpensive way. On top of that, it’s also saved me a bit of money. Bus tickets are about $2 each, and although I have no problem paying for transportation, every time I walk saves me a few dollars. It’s not a lot by any stretch, but since I have to be on campus at least three days per week, it adds up.
Perhaps most importantly, though, it also helps to reduce stress and relax a bit more than I normally would. Academic life certainly has as many difficult moments as any other job, and relaxing on my way to class and unwinding on my way home helps to manage whatever work-related anxiety I’m feeling on a given day. It’s a chance to get grounded prior to going up in front of the group and a good way to process whatever happened in class and let go of whatever needs letting go. The combination of long walks and beautiful scenery – like the river on the way to my doctor’s office, pictured above – really help to take the edge off whatever’s on my mind.
Not walking certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I think I’d lose a lot if I were to stop. In order to keep it up, I’ve started to consider how to best maintain this practice when the snow starts to fly and the ground ices over, as it so often does in this part of the world. I love the combination of benefits from this one simple change, though – a bit of money and time saved, and a good deal gained in terms of pleasure and stress relief – so I’m willing to do whatever I can to maintain my walking habit even through the less desirable weather that’s likely to be headed our way very soon.