Exercise Is a By-product of Working Outside

For the last 26 days I have spent most very morning working on my new garden space next to my driveway, close to the road. Because lots of the time I have been hidden by bushes and not using any power tools that make noise I have had the luxury of observing life going by me on the street.

There are a few things I can count on most mornings. A man will walk by with three tiny poodles that don’t walk as a pack, meaning close together heading the same direction, but more like satellite moons to their human, all with their own agendas. Multiple older women will walk by talking on phones, usually through earbuds, much too loudly and I have learned quite a lot of mostly unflattering things about them.

A few people will run by, but since I am at the top of a long low hill the speed of the running really is dependent on which direction they are going. Same for a few cyclists. All runners, cyclists, phone talkers and little poodle walkers never turn their heads to look my way. They are on a mission.

Then there are the people who know me who walk by and either stop to talk or at least wave. They are a fairly regular group and I enjoy getting to take a break and stop shoveling with the idea it would be rude to keep doing it while we talk.

Then there are the packs of women. Sometimes two, but as many as four, sometimes older than me, but often much younger. They are the ones who need to get out of the house and a walk is the only socially acceptable way to visit. Even before Covid there were lots of these packs in the neighborhood.

Last year, my Dad and his farm man Bill came to work work on our property with one of my Dad’s tractors. Bill has lived his whole life in the “country” and not a neighborhood like mine. During the four days Bill and my Dad spent in my yard they witnessed the similar people passing by that I did. One day Bill asked my Dad, “Where are all those people walking to?” My Dad told him they were just out getting exercise, talking a walk.

To Bill, exercise was something you got working and no one he knew had time just to walk nowhere. I realized that as I was outside, digging and lifting and building I was getting way more exercise than I usually do and I was much too tired to consider taking a walk after doing that for a few hours everyday. Walking is an incredibly privileged thing to have time to do, as well as running or cycling.

Most of the other people I have seen regularly pass by me while I have been working are the army of workers who come in the neighborhood everyday to dig, blow, cut, clean and take care of everyone’s yards. I can bet they don’t go out for a walk when they get home after working all day.

As I look around at all the rest of my yard, which a crew comes to cut or blow every week I see lots of places I could work on to improve. I have decided I like working outside as my exercise rather than just walking to nowhere. The sense of productivity makes the working enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, walking is a great way to clear your head and enjoy the day as well as get exercise, but actually building something makes me want to go out and exercise more.

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