The Joy of Walking
Walking is no more taken for granted when I was in a wheelchair to board the plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2017. The ability to walk is a gift. Most of the time, we only know the real value of something when it is taken away. Here is a long note for the younger generation from a senior citizen.
I am waiting for my cousin to pick me up at my house. He needs me to guide him and his family members to go to Cyberjaya Lake Garden for a morning walk. The garden is located at Persiaran Semarak Api, Cyber 4, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia. It is about 21km from Bandar Baru Bangi where I live. On arrival, we do some stretching before we start our walking. I led the walk and showed him around the 3km walking path around the lake with beautiful flowers and trees. The morning air was fresh and cool. We had a great walk under shady trees, on long timber bridges and by the lakeside!
I walk three times a week in the public garden Taman Tasik Cempaka located about one kilometre from my house. My weekly walking habit started way back in the 1990s when I lived at Taman Maluri, located about 5 minutes drive from KLCC Garden where Petronas Twin Towers were located. This routine remains with me until now. Thank God that my good habit has become my lifestyle since I was 40 years old.
Now, I do my morning walk at Taman Tasik Cempaka in Bandar Baru Bangi and a few gardens in Putrajaya. I have more choices of places to walk in Putrajaya-the lakeside, the hilly gardens and the wetlands. I had great fun jogging in these places but as I grow older, I only walk and cycle here.
In Putrajaya, I prefer to walk in the gardens because I could see beautiful and colourful flowers blooming along the route. Whenever I see something interesting, I stop and take photos. This way I get closer to nature. The ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Another location that I like to walk in is the Putrajaya Wetlands. Trees and marshy wetlands are along the walking routes. On my lucky day, I can watch pelicans, storks and ducks swimming in the lakes. Live music from the chirping of birds on the trees follows me as I walk. It is heaven on earth for me.
Walking has many physical and mental health benefits. For me when I walk alone it is like having meditation in motion. As I walk I will have a personal conversation with myself. You can solve a few problems and get new ideas during your walks. Have you had a similar experience?
When we are alone, we feel lonely. It is good to go out and have a walk in the garden and see others walking. You may have the chance to meet someone and have a conversation during our walk. There are many out there who walk alone and want to talk to someone.
Among my peers who are senior citizens(age more than 60 years old), we walk at least three times a week to keep fit and remain healthy. Many of us have a few illnesses that walking can improve our health conditions. At the same time, we enjoy walking in a group. And later we gather at a nearby restaurant for a lively conversation about life over a cup of coffee or tea. By the way, the local McD serves a good breakfast for my friends and me.
To inspire and motivate others to go out walking, I organise family walks and school alumni walk. To make the walks more fun, at times we do a potluck picnic during our walk. At certain beautiful locations, we stop and take photos using our smartphones. The ordinary walk becomes a Photowalk for a few of us who love photography. I am one of them. It is more like the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone.
I live about 30km from Kuala Lumpur, the biggest commercial city centre in Malaysia. I hate driving to a traffic-jammed city, so I usually take the MRT train ride from Kajang to Bukit Bintang MRT station-located right in the city centre. From here, I can walk or take a free bus service to wherever I want to go within the CBD area. This is a city walk for me. I love to walk along the back lanes of the city and take photos. Taking photos makes me enjoy walking. And walking the streets makes me take better street photography. Both activities complement each other. The distance of my Photowalk varies from 5km to 10km. I don’t feel tired because I am having fun at the same time even though my age is now 69 years old.
I am no stranger to long-distance walking. When I was 7 years old kid I walked to school every day for about 2km. Most of us were poor and we could not afford to buy bicycles in the ’60s. When I was 21 years old studying at Sheffield University, England I walked 2 miles a day to attend my class at Mappin Street from Ruth Square. From this experience, I tend to walk fast like those office workers in London during winter time.
Four years ago I got osteoarthritis. Both my knees suffered great pain when I want to walk. Then I realised the importance of healthy legs for my personal mobility. I took that for granted when I was younger in the first 50 years of my life. I had to take medicines and undergo physiotherapy. On one occasion, I had to use a wheelchair to board a plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu. I felt like everyone was looking at me. I was terrified of losing my ability to walk, which most of us have taken for granted. I have seen a few of my friends who need wheelchairs to move around because of heart attacks and strokes.
After almost two years of medications and physiotherapy, I got back to almost normal again, Now I can walk 5km and cycle 20km in one session. I am grateful to Allah that I regain my health and can enjoy walking again. Two years of knee pain is a long time, not to mention I also missed my cycling.
In the last year 2021, I discovered an online group called We Walk More. It is a virtual group of people who walk every week and share their walk track records online. This led me to set up our own group where I invited my friends to join so that we can inspire and motivate one another to walk more wherever we are and whenever we like.
By end of March 2022, we have more than 70 participants. About half of them are quite active with monthly logs from 30km to 150km per month. To encourage members to have a sense of achievement, we reward the following certificates:
- Green Walker for 60km/month +
- Blue Walker for 90km/month +
- Red Walker for 120km/month +
- Black Walker for 150km/month +
My advice to young men and women: Please take care of your ability to walk. It is your personal mobility to freedom. Losing that, you shall be imprisoned in your own home. Don’t sacrifice for money or short thrills in dangerous sports.