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For the Sake of Sunshine & Heart-hunting

Cooked spaghetti. That’s what my legs felt like after a simple 40-minute walk around the neighborhood. I just wanted to enjoy the sun and hunt for hearts. First, we walked across the street to meet the new neighbors who just moved in this past week. They were outside cleaning up old fall leaves left in the yard when we started out on our walk, so we introduced ourselves while maintaining the proper social distancing protocols. We did not shake hands or get within six feet of each other. After an acceptable amount of chit-chat, we proceeded on our tour of the neighborhood, observing many homes with hearts covering their windows, doors, and sidewalks.

Along the way we also noticed many other people enjoying the sunshine – all at a respectable distance from each other. There was even a family out in their driveway with a firepit, and they were all spaced several feet apart, including the dog. A couple of cyclists riding along the bike-path wore cloth masks from just over their nose to below the chin, secured beneath their bike helmet straps. If another couple crossed our path, we courteously nodded and provided them with necessary space to pass.

Nearing the end of our walk, I felt like I could barely hobble the last two blocks before arriving back at home. This is what quarantine can do to you…. at least what it’s done to me. My body was used to walking quite a bit around campus in order to get to classes at the University of Iowa. Though I tried to workout in addition to my required campus strolls, that regular walking five-days a week made up a large chunk of my exercise.

According to my Fitbit tracker, it could amount to between 6,000 and 8,000 steps daily. That was my step-count on days I didn’t work out. Probably a month before quarantine hit, I started going to Curves three to four times per week. On workout days, or days that I’d go for a walk with my husband in the evening, my step count would average between 10,000 and 13,000, sometimes more. It makes sense, then, that when all forms of exercise come to a sudden and immediate halt, my body is going to notice. And notice it did! When we arrived at home, I barely slipped my shoes off and tossed my coat on the hook before I stumbled to the sofa to collapse. And there I stayed for twenty-minutes recuperating from our walk.

When you don’t have someplace to go – in fact, when you have ZERO possible places to go – it’s easy to forget that you need to make some form of exercise an intentional part of your day. Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself. Perhaps I shouldn’t generalize it so much. But I didn’t realize how much my body was missing physical activity until today’s walk, prompted by the beautiful sunshine. It’s glaringly apparent, however, that I shouldn’t wait for a sunny day to make activity a priority. It is, after all, springtime in the Midwest.

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