For fifteen years, I walked, biked or bused to and from work every day. For ten of those years it was a two mile commute. On weekends and vacations, I usually hiked. I was fit.
For the past two years, I have been driving my daughter across the city to a great Waldorf school--a commute that takes 20-30 minutes (longer if we have fresh snow). I want the best for my daughter and I love her school, but the commute is taking a toll on me. My days include too much sitting and breathing the exhaust of the car(s) in front of me. I am not fit and I long for more outdoor exercise that is part of each day.
There was a great story on NPR yesterday that really struck a chord. I especially liked the parts, "We've engineered walking out of our existence and everyday life" and "I've walked myself into my best thoughts". Read or listen to the article here.
A related realm the NPR article did not explore is how Americans also spend too much of their free time being sedentary. Ray Zillmer foresaw this problem more than fifty years ago. On March 2, 1956 Zillmer wrote, "The free time, which people have and which is increasing, should be used in a constructive way, ... so that they will use their body instead of watching other people use theirs." A few years later he left these prophetic words in his will: "I believe that there is a great danger that the physical condition of our people will gradually deteriorate because of the increased use of ingenious labor saving devices."
My daughter will be of kindergarten age this autumn. As I evaluate various school options for her and try to create a plan for our next decade-plus, I hope to design a life for us that includes daily walking and other physical activities in the outdoors. I think we will be happier and healthier. Someday I'll write about it to tell you how it's going.