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Published: 12/9/2012

COMMENTARY

Walking is good for the body and mind

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNSIT

Walking Thoughts, a compilation of humorous off the cuff columns by O. Roger Taylor, offers food for thought in addition to delightful reading.

Mr. Taylor, a veteran journalist, gathered most of his column ideas while walking to and from his newspaper office in Archbold, Ohio. I have had the book since its publication in 2007, but it has new meaning since I have promised my mind and bulging, aching body to walk for improved health. Walking Thoughts is the top book on the pile next to the easy chair. Not only are the 90 vignettes woven with humor and down home tales, the book has become an incentive for me to walk when heretofore driving was the easier choice.

To turn a phrase, Driving Thoughts could be an appropriate title to explain where I come up with ideas for many of my column subjects. I drive an average 300 miles each week, which is ample thinking time. With Mr. Taylor’s assurance that “walking is fun, and thinking is more fun” I intend to walk for pleasure, for fitness, and to think happy thoughts to write.

We don’t have to walk outdoors. Malls and gyms are heated. After getting serious about this walking thing I am on the lookout for locations that are safe and pleasant. After 20 years at Posey Lake it occurred to me that walking the circumference of the two-acre yard is an easy path; bumpy but doable. I will have to measure the distance to determine how many laps are necessary.

I admire neighbors who walk regularly on the roadside and have often said I would join them, but never have. Even more disgusting is that when Digby came to live here when he was a puppy, I said he would be a good walking companion. He was 16 when he died two years ago and we just never got around to taking regular walks.

Hopefully, if I walk correctly I can get rid of one of the two blood pressure pills and I won’t have to face knee and hip surgery as many friends have. I also foresee a day when my clothes magically will be looser and I no longer need to try to camouflage the belly with hip-length jackets.

Sadly, Mr. Taylor’s walking has been limited since he was stricken with Parkinson’s. But for most of his life he was a walker  to and from the office, or across town to visit a friend, or wherever a good stride could be the choice over turning the ignition key.

Of his brother’s creative writing that dips into small town life with homespun vignettes, Ross W. Taylor, publisher of the Archbold Buckeye wrote, “Walking Thoughts is hard to imagine in a high-tech society where few walk slow enough to think.”

The column had a five-year run in the Buckeye, before the author bought the Farmland News. He and his wife Nancy operated the weekly 35 years before selling it to his son-in-law, Jed Grisez in 2001. He tallied 770 columns before retirement and compiled 90 new ones for the book. 

The title is explained in the introduction. “I’ve always lived within walking distance of my work. Those 10-minute walks to and from work provided me with... thoughtful thinking time that often transformed into column starters. Walking is fun. Thinking is more fun.”

We must add that walking is a form of exercise that is free. I like the idea of not having to join a fitness center or working out on machines with a trainer and that it can be accomplished almost anywhere according to my time schedule.

Unfortunately walking around the house, vacuuming and going to the basement to do the laundry doesn’t count. To be beneficial to the lungs, heart, and legs there must be a regimented walking routine on a regular basis and not just when the mood strikes, like a week before the office Christmas party.

Distance and pace make the difference between just walking and a workout. The serious walker doesn’t stroll, saunter, or shuffle, but keeps his mind on the subject with brisk steps that make the heart beat faster and cause deeper breathing.

Studies show that when walking is done on a regular schedule at a brisk pace, it can improve the body’s ability to consume oxygen during exertion, lower the resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs.

Eventually I may work up to three and five mile fitness walks in record time, but for now I am following the rules for beginners; 20 minutes four or five times a week at a pace that is comfortable.

And, yes, Mr. Taylor, with each step I will be thinking of my next column.

Walking Thoughts is available by mail order to include postage, $15.79, or at the Farmland News office in Archbold for $12.79. Information: 419-445-9456.



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