I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic about 14 years ago. Having seen so many relatives (mostly on Dad’s side of the family) develop adult-onset diabetes, and particularly seeing what happened to some of them who never took the diagnosis seriously, I’ve been obsessing about carbohydrates, blood sugar, and calorie-burning ever since. Now that I’m at the point where I’m actually testing my blood-sugar directly several times a day, I’ve learned that a lot of the advice my general practitioner and the nutritionist he sent me to is… well, let’s just say the advice was not based on the latest research, nor does it match what’s happening in my body day-to-day…
Regardless, an important part of managing my blood sugar levels and related issues is exercise, which mostly means walking. Long before this diagnosis I formed the habit of riding the bus to work, then walking home at night. Since most of my work places the last few decades have been downtown, and I’ve been living in more or less the same part of north Seattle, that means that at the end of each work day I walk for a bit more than an hour—carrying a loaded backpack.
I find it amusing that often when someone (usually a co-worker) learns about this, one of their first comments is that they can’t imagine taking that much time out of their day. Which I usually counter by asking how long it takes them to get home by their usual commuting method. It’s amazing how someone who thinks nothing of sitting in their car or riding in a carpool for two hours finds the thought of walking for slightly less time unthinkable.
The next question is usually something about how much easier they think going to a gym would be. Really? Driving a couple hours each way to get to work and then, on top of that, going to a gym for at least an hour several times a week seems like a better use of time than walking?
Now, I get it. They live further from work than I do, so it would take them much longer to walk home than the hour or so it takes me. But for me one of the real beauties of my method is that unlike trips to the gym that are easy to blow off, I need to go home every day.
Anyway, the long walk at the end of the work day isn’t my only exercise. There is a nice walk to get to the bus, a slightly longer walk from the bus to the office, and a lot of walking/running around that happens at work. It’s kind of amazing, now that I’m letting my phone monitor it, how much walking I do at the office. It used to be that I would try to be efficient with my trips at work. I need to go to the kitchen for some more coffee, I should stop in the bathroom while I’m there, and hey! While I’m at it, I should send that print job to the printer right next to the kitchen! And then, at least half the time what would happen is I would walk to the kitchen, fill my coffee cup, chat with a co-worker for a minute, then walk back to my desk and only then remember the other two things I meant to do.
I’ve decided to stop getting irritated at myself for the extra errands and just embrace them, and the exercise.
Work-from-home days and the weekend usually means a lot less walking, so I usually have to take a little extra insulin those days to keep the blood sugar where it ought to be. Even if I don’t check my step count on some weekends, I can always tell which weekends have been more sedentary than usual because even with the extra insulin by blood sugar will be up in the high end by Sunday evening.
But one of the best parts of the long walk each day has little to do with physical health. No matter how bad a day I might have at work (which is not all the time, but often enough), by the time I get home, I’m pretty much over it. I might still be dragging and/or feeling some of the effects of the bad day, but just a bit over an hour of walking puts and incredible mental distance between me and whatever happened at work. That alone is worth the time!
And walking is a good time to think, plan out scenes, wrestle with plot holes in my latest process, et cetera.
I love walking!
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