Remember how you walked to school? How everyone walked to school? Then you walked to the shops (if you were lucky and had 20c for a mixed bag of lollies), then you walked to your mate's house and home again? It's not just “kids these days” who aren't walking – because kids only do what their parents do – it's all of us.
The latest research showed that our family is an anomaly by choosing to walk, just for the sake of it. The Herald contacted me to share my ideas and experiences of walking in these changed times.
Here's an excerpt of the Sydney Morning Herald article, which is really just the bit where I blab on. But I urge you to take the time to read all of it, because the facts are fascinating and frankly, a little scary too.
Like this: “The typical distance that an eight-year-old navigates on their own by foot or bike has declined dramatically: from more than 9.5 kilometres in 1919, to 1.6km in 1950, 800 metres in 1979 and 270m in 2007.”
Tara Wells prefers “incidental walking” – to train stations, the shops or the library. She spent her honeymoon with husband Ian, who runs Sydney Coast Walks, walking most of the way from Manly to Bondi.
In 2010, after suffering sudden onset rheumatoid arthritis, she could barely walk and recalls standing at the bottom of a busy train station escalator in anger. “All these people had two perfectly good legs and I couldn't understand why they weren't using them,” she says. “I think it's laziness and apathy. I knew that once I got my health under control, which it is now, I would never take my legs for granted.”
She says that walking “recharges” her body and mind. “It gets the blood flowing and I feel more connected to myself and to the world. When I walk I can feel the ground under my feet, I can feel the blood pumping through my veins, I can feel the wind through my hair. And all of that helps me remember who I am, rather than just my role as a mum.”
“What's been lost along the way is just walking for the hell of it,” Wells says, watching them go. “It shouldn't be a big deal that you have gone for a walk. I think we have forgotten how easy it is and what your legs are there to do, if only we would use them.” Read the whole article.
I walk for a living and even I found it too easy to stop walking. But I made the decision to put one foot in front of the other, and before you know it, it had become a habit again.
How to get walking again.
It doesn't take much to step out your door and explore.
Tara Wells co-owns Sydney Coast Walks, and co-hosts new podcast This Hiking Life with her husband Ian Wells. She is a journalist and former TV and radio producer/presenter who’s delighted to combine her love of hiking with story-telling.