Twenty minutes a day (in theory . . . )

I started  to make a conscious effort about two years ago. It was winter and I only managed a few days before there was a really prolonged spell of rain. Then I got a horrid cold. When all that was over, I made another start. I kept at it. And slowly but surely, I made it a routine. Now, it’s so much of a routine, I feel sufficiently guilty if I miss. It’s simple, but effective.

I try to take a walk for just twenty minutes a day.

Oh, I know it doesn’t sound particularly impressive. There will be fitness freaks and gym lovers out there snorting into their coffee. But, you know, I’m pretty happy with it.

You see, I don’t do it for the exercise as such – I’m well aware that although twenty minutes a day is better than nothing, it’s hardly likely to have a huge impact on my fitness levels.


Mainly, I use this short walk for thinking, for chuntering to myself about stuff that’s annoyed/annoying me (believe me, twenty minutes is never long enough!) and for giving myself a talking-to over whatever I need a talking-to about. Goodness knows what anyone who passes me must think as I wander along muttering to myself 🙂

I enjoy listening to the birds singing. And the other day, there was a squirrel sitting on a branch, looking down and chattering furiously at a spot below. I couldn’t work out what was down there making him so cross, but the following day, he was in exactly the same place doing exactly the same thing, as though he’d been there the whole twenty-four hours. He made me smile.

Walk in the woods

When I was working full time, I would walk during my lunch break. I found it therapeutic to be out of the building and get some fresh air. After I cut my hours a few months ago, I didn’t have that inbuilt excuse because I no longer had a lunch hour, so I have to make a more conscious effort now.

Waiting until I’ve finished work is no good – like any sensible Englishwoman, I just want to go home and have a nice cup of tea. Instead, I try to set off for work half an hour early and drive to somewhere maybe five to ten minutes away from my workplace. This limits me to just a couple of places: a walk along a wooded pathway (nice in summer but it can get a little dank and dreary in the winter when the trees are bare) or a local tarn which, fortunately, takes exactly twenty minutes to walk around. It sets me up for the day, and I find that on days when I haven’t had the chance, for whatever reason, I get cranky that little bit quicker.

CanalWeekends are different, of course. I may not get out at all, or I may end up doing a much longer walk if hubby and I happen to be out and about. I find that tagging it onto something else makes it much easier than forcing myself out of the house just for the sake of it to walk around a fairly uninteresting local park. Today, for example, we needed to nip to the garden centre, but we stopped off on the way for a walk along the canal. And it meant that I could legitimately witter on, because I had a real live person beside me to listen!

Is there anybody else out there who uses their walk as a therapy session? I’d love to know that I’m not the only one!





14 thoughts on “Twenty minutes a day (in theory . . . )

  1. jenanita01 says:

    Yes, I too love to walk. Not so easy these days, knees and hips complain steadily, but I have to get out sometimes or I will go mad. I cannot drive anymore, which limits me, but I can usually find somewhere that will help to empty my mind and give me some much needed peace.
    I suppose it is a kind of therapy!

  2. Eric Klingenberg says:

    Walking is the only exercise I get. I have to walk to work each day which is 10 minutes there and back. I do try and go for a longer walk at the weekend with the dog. I usually do that before I start to write. I am trying to swim once a week as well but every time events conspire against me!

  3. scribevintage says:

    A brilliant post Helen! I echo everything you say. I love being in the outdoors and walking is a great excuse to get out there, clear my mind and be inspired. There’s nothing like a walk to blow the cobwebs away and put things into perspective.

    • Helen Pollard says:

      Hi Evelyn. All those sound like good alternatives! Before I started writing again, I used to do card-making and scrapbooking – very therapeutic, as you concentrate on what you’re doing rather than on your troubles 🙂

  4. evelynralph says:

    Oh, I also used to do cardmaking too. We have similar tastes in that respect. I very seldom do thay now. Too expensive to post and buy all the goodies. Takes a lot of space too. I must get back to my novels too.

  5. rosgemmell says:

    I love walks in the fresh air but we tend to keep them mostly for weekends so husband and I can chat as we walk and enjoy a coffee at some point. But I do like the idea of a short walk on my own – it’s a bit hilly where I live so I’d need to get somewhere by car which takes time. However, our village is pretty so we try to manage a shorter walk halfway down and back (to avoid the worst hill!) whenever we can.

    • Helen Pollard says:

      It is a good time to chat with your partner – uninterrupted by kids and the rest of the world! I agree that having to take the car makes it a pain and less worthwhile for just a short walk. If I’m not out and about in the car, I have less incentive to just stroll from the house … it’s not very interesting. Thanks for visiting, Rosemary 🙂

  6. kathleenbee says:

    I love to walk, but only get out once a week. On a Friday morning, because my maid comes every Friday, I can leave the kids alone. It’s a life-saver to me. I really, really need those 45 minutes alone time. Sometimes, as soon as I step out the house, I breathe a sigh of relief. That time slot is when I get my thinking done. If I’ve hit a snare in my writing, I usually find the inspiration or answer I need. I love the idea of walking 20 minutes a day. Maybe I should start that up. It’s just difficult where I live (South Africa) as it’s only safe to go out when it’s later in the day and also, there aren’t pretty places like your pictures.

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