Throughout my life I’ve had various modes of transportation at my disposal. When I was young both my parents and members of my extended family would take me for walks. After moving to Toronto we didn’t have a car so the only options were walking or taking transit. Once I learned to ride a bicycle that was slowly added as a possible means of transportation as I grew and was more able to handle cycling on the streets of Toronto. We did not need a car as a family, and when we were going out of town my parents would rent a car. I did not get my driver’s license until my early twenties, and my first car when I was in my mid twenties.
One thing I noticed once I got a car was that I would walk and transit much less in Toronto. After moving to the suburbs and then to a part of the province where a car was a necessity I found that I was walking even less. Predictably this also led to some weight gain from lack of excercise. Two years ago things changed somewhat, the lease was due on the car and my financial situation was such that it did not make economic sense to keep the vehicle. I was planning to go back to school and the money that would be spent on the car would be better spent elsewhere. I was back to using transit.
The move back to using transit was relatively smooth, but I found that I was using it all the time and not walking as much as I would have prior to my first getting a car. When I look at my patterns I think that I was still in a mostly car mode of thinking with transit. Even short distances I would think to take the bus first and not walk. Now with moving to a more central location my thinking has shifted again This seems to be an automatic change. I find my first thought isn’t “how do I get there by transit?”, but “what’s the best walking route and how long will it take?”
Measuring the distance using an app on my phone I found that the distance to walk from home to work is 3.2km and takes between 40 and 45 minutes, about the same length of time it that I used to spend taking transit to work. The walk to university is about 2km measured by the same app. This combined with a shift in diet and how I eat should result in some natural, easy weight loss without starving or putting my health at risk. These are good benefits from this.
I consider myself fortunate that I am still able to walk long distances without getting winded or ending up with sore muscles. Not everyone is able to walk and, frankly, going to a gym to workout has always seemed a bit silly. I’ve never been athletic and even when I was in reasonably good shape running caused me pain even in short bursts. I did go to Curves for a while, they have a realistic half hour workout plan that can be fit into one’s schedule relatively easily, but once life got a bit more crazy it wasn’t so easy to get to on a regular basis. Even walking is something that I do best when it is to get to a specific destination. So, I have found what works for me.
All this analysis of myself from a small change in surroundings and location within the city. Please, do not think that this is intended as a speech on how you should get in shape. Do what is right for you, and for your own well being, mentally, spiritually and physically. We are all different and have different interests, needs and desires. Once we find what we are passionate about, or what works for our own lives it can suddenly become easy to do what is needed.
Two years now without a car, and I don’t miss it, it has changed my thinking back to being more balanced.