Walking is a natural given
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
Our body is an amazing creation, just like the rest of creation, and all our body parts are designed perfectly for some purpose. Our eyes are made for seeing. Our ears are made for hearing and balance. How about our muscles, bones and joints? How about our legs? Do you think the Creator gave us legs so we can stay home all day, everyday, sitting in front of the TV or another gadget? Well, if we were meant to sit or lie down all our lives, He would have given us roots. But He gave us legs instead. These are for our mobility- to be able to move from place to place – move forward, backward, sideways, up, down.
Walking is a natural movement of our bodies, just like stretching the arm or turning the head. Or I would say, it is a movement that we are expected to do. It is a movement that we have to do. Walking is not an option. It is a mandatory movement. Because there’s this law of nature- use it or lose it. We don’t use our legs, we lose them. Well, perhaps they won’t disappear but their function will be lost or greatly diminished. I guess many of us know how we become weak when we don’t walk or move about. During this “extended tengao” (quarantine), there may be some of you who have become so lazy and weak and depressed that now they cannot walk as well as before.
Walking is not just to keep our legs fit and strong. Science does not have to tell us that walking is necessary for our overall health and wellness. How is this so? Well, walking does not only use the bones, muscles and joints. These won’t function if there is no blood and oxygen thus we have our heart and blood vessels to deliver these goods. So we also need our mouth, stomach and intestines to digest food and absorb nutrients and our lungs to absorb oxygen. We will need also our liver and kidneys to remove toxins and liquid waste. Otherwise, if waste is not excreted from our body, our muscles will get tired easily. Then we need our brain to oversee all these functions. Thus, with walking, we are putting all our body parts into motion and naturally, if we walk often, then we keep all our body parts, including our immune system, in good running (or walking) condition.
Walking, then, is still the best exercise. It doesn’t need special gadgets, just comfortable clothes and the will to do so. You don’t even need footwear, you can walk barefoot and get the added benefits of walking barefoot! You can do it in sunny or stormy weather. Although with our storms as chaotic as they are now, think twice before going out in a storm. With walking, you have more time to view your surroundings and appreciate the great sunrises and sunsets we have, look at the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. Just like when I was forced to walk to the city market during lockdown, I noticed for the first time a tree with beautiful violet flowers along the way! I also got to see interesting architectures that otherwise I wouldn’t have known if I just took the jeep. It helped, though, that there was only me and two others in the whole highway stretch and the streets were empty.
There’s much more to walking. With walking, your depression or anger will dissipate. Promise. With walking, you pass by your neighbor and it would be rude not to notice, even if he’s not your friend, so that could be the start of your friendship. You see, it’s healthy to be friendly with our neighbors.
Walking was what we did before World War II. Even now, thank goodness, many people in rural Cordillera only have their feet to take them from one place to another. They only have their feet to bring them from home to the farm, to the forest, to the river, to the dap-ay, to the church, to the neighbor whether she is a meter away or a mountain away. They go to school on foot. These they do daily, just like our lone Igorot Olympian Hector Begeo did as a kid. No bikes, no cars, no tricycles. They only stay home during “tengao” or traditional rest days? On ordinary days, only sick people stay at home. So coupled with their natural food and eating habits, they surely have the recipe for good health and strength. They are following the natural recipe for wellness and wholeness. I say “wholeness” because by walking, they come to appreciate their natural environment and thus have the natural desire to preserve it. We cannot live apart from our environment.
Nowadays, we have designed our lives for ease and convenience. I think we, Filipinos, among other nationalities, love convenience the most. We want door-to-door service. Why do I say this? Look at commuters, whether they are in Bontoc, Baguio or in Manila. We don’t stop at designated bus or jeepney stops. We abhor walking so much so that we construct our houses as near the road as possible, preferably at the bus doorstep, and depriving other people of a sidewalk. We have conveniently forgotten what our parents and grandparents did to keep fit and strong.
I hope that with covid, we have reclaimed the blessing of having our feet. Now, it’s even safer to walk than take public transportation. Because by walking, you don’t get into long contact with people as opposed to being cooped in the jeep. But we will need government intervention to provide good sidewalks so people will be encouraged to walk. Bike lanes would be great, too. I think Baguio City with its strong leadership can do this. Let’s dream of Baguio City to be a walkable city. The point is that we need to walk. We need to walk daily. The longer the mileage, the better. The earlier we start children to love walking, the better. That’s the easiest natural thing we can do to keep covid at bay.***
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16