Monday, March 30, 2020

Walking Proves You're Alive

Proving I Still Have a Working Heart

As I've written, I had some heart problems a few years ago. I'm fine, don't worry, but to get from "heart problems" to "I'm fine, don't worry" took some doing. Regardless of my dry medical report, which was rosy, I needed to rekindle vital confidence in this thumping mystery in my chest. It had broken, and once something so vital breaks, it's no easy thing to step down from the fraught state of high alert.

After I'd passed a stress test, my doctor smiled and told me to go nuts with aerobic exercise. No limits. The more the better. It's rehab!

I didn't need to be told twice. I started walking and walking and walking and walking. I dimly put two and two together: I live at the bottom of a hill....and needed to go nuts with cardio, on pure instinct, I threw open the door (seriously, I'm not sure I shut it behind me) and brutishly, stupidly walked up the damned hill. Day after day, while commuters and dog walkers shlepped morosely up the slope with tight faces, I was in a whole different movie, beaming with ecstasy. I chugged FAST up the steep slope, feeling POWERFUL. I had a green light, so my heart was okay beating up a storm. It was THRUSTING me magnificently and I WASN'T old and I WASN'T sick and I didn't have some hardened, grizzled, grotesque thing in my chest, no, it was EAGER. Walking didn't just rehab my health, it reset my fear and broken confidence. Walking was my victory. I walked so aggressively, so pugnaciously, that once, as I headed, mid-circuit, into a supermarket to pick up a few things, I swear I very nearly walked straight through the back wall.  

Proving You're Still Alive

This week a friend who'd been in precautionary quarantine (no symptoms) finally busted out of his apartment, away from the fraught sweaty worries with which he'd been cooped up. He's always been a big walker, and told me how ebullient he felt to finally hit the streets.

I completely understood. I've been hill walking 3-4 miles most days during this pandemic, and it's provided some of the same return-to-your-senses reset I'd experienced during my rehab. As I texted him:
Walking was the antidote to my lingering heart worries and it’s the antidote now. Walking is the most defiant and visceral possible declaration of having remained alive.

My grandfather walked faster than any human alive into his 90s. I figured it was the result of his anxiety, or that he was being competitive with the youngster. But now I get it.

Proving You're Burning Calories

I'd been using the native iPhone Health app to track my walking, and the interface is awful and it doesn’t compute calories burned. Turns out there's a free app called Activity Tracker that pulls in stored Health app data and organizes and renders it much more nicely, plus calculates calories (add your height and weight in the settings to ensure that it calculates correctly).

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