A few weeks ago I downloaded a new version of my iPhone’s operating system and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to any changes it included. I’d already read that the update included the Watch app (whether I wanted it or not), but I didn’t know much else.
Then, last week, fiddling with my phone while riding the subway, I swiped my screen and accidentally opened a folder called Health. Up came a fancy graph that showed me how many steps I’d taken so far that day, that week, that month, and my daily average.
So this thing had been monitoring me without my even knowing it. Which was a little disconcerting. But once I got over that little thought, I was gratified to confirm what I knew intuitively: I walk a lot. I’m averaging about 12,000 steps a day.
I’ve learned that’s a pretty healthy total, which is good. Even better, I do this without thinking much about it. But it hasn’t always been the case.
Beth has always liked to walk—to destinations but also, to walk for its own sake, just to be outside, talk (or not), and get a little exercise. I was never crazy about it in the other places we lived because driving was easy and therefore quicker for errands and what not.
Not so in downtown Chicago. Having a car is expensive, you can’t count on parking, and when you can it can cost an arm and a leg. Plus, there’s public transportation, which routinely requires at least a quarter to half-mile stroll to and from stops.
There’s a lot of stimulation, enough to make the steps and the time fly by: People watching, architecture, the lakefront. And concentrations of worthwhile walkable destinations—restaurants, museums, theaters.
On the other hand, it has made me wonder why on earth I didn’t walk more in the other places we lived. In Champaign-Urbana, for example, downtown Champaign is two miles from downtown Urbana. Now, that’s a healthy walk, but not monumental; nevertheless I would never have considered it while I lived there. (Nor would I have considered taking the bus—even though CU has a terrific system.)
I think it was sheer habit as much as laziness. And the sense—accurate or not—that I didn’t have the time. I feel a little silly about all that, even a bit ashamed. Could’ve burned a lot less gas and a lot more calories.
Mostly, though, I am reminded: Listen to Beth.