It was a special gift I’ve enjoyed from the moment I received it. A step counter. My father always said,
“Walking is the best exercise.” Dad walked like a man with a purpose; a man who was going somewhere important. Perhaps that’s why I never understood people who meander or stroll, frequently stopping mid-step to make a point or to finish a sentence. Can’t they speak and move their feet at the same time?
Knowing how far you’ve walked is fun knowledge. It sets you up for a contest with yourself, like playing solitaire or golfing. Golfers tell me that golf is a game between you and your scores. Walkers can make a contest of walking longer distances all the time. The goal is 10,000 steps day. Walking a few extra steps, like up a set of stairs instead of hopping on an elevator is like getting extra credit for a school assignment. It’s something not required, but you do it anyway to win some extra points.
The physical fitness craze has caught on and become quite popular. Everywhere I go I must be careful not to be bumped by bicycles, run down by runners or rammed by roller bladers. Will I soon be threatened by being pummeled by pogo sticks? The momentum to keep moving grows.
That’s why I am always so surprised , any time I drive into a big box store like Costco, to see cars waiting patiently near the entrance for someone to come out, drive their car away, and leave a spot free for them, close to the entrance of the store. They could park farther away and have the advantage of adding steps to their day, moving their bodies, exercising while they run their errands. A great two-for-one advantage.
But even in beautiful weather these couch potatoes on wheels prefer to sit and wait for a closer parking spot. If these anti-walkers owned step counters as I do, they would understand the advantage of gaining a few extra steps to the totals of the day’s completed steps. With a step counter clipped to waistbands every step walked is an opportunity to crank up the day’s step total. It becomes not a chore but a game in which anyone can win. So I wonder, as I watch this phenomenon,
1) Are those car-sitters people who exercise early in the morning and then consider any extra physical exertion a waste of time, or a redundant activity, like eating breakfast twice, reading the newspaper again or buying two identical raincoats?
2) Or do they take pride in achieving the honor of winning the closest parking spot to the store entrance? Has the place in the parking lot become a status issue, like being seated next to the guest of honor at a dinner party?
3) Do they have small children hidden in the back seat who run wild in parking lots?
Or are they just lazy and unwilling to exert any more time or energy than necessary to the dull task of grocery shopping? Is walking an insult to their dignity?
Maybe some day a kind, generous person will present them with a step counter of their own so they can gain the satisfaction of knowing how far they’ve travelled on foot each day. It could be a real game changer, transforming a sedentary soul into an energetic, healthy ambulatory human.