Up until that point, I had not realised just how quickly your joints seize up through lack of use and, equally, just how much exercise you get every day without even thinking about it.
Having never been a fitness freak, spells of gym going inevitably came to an end with a pulled muscle or a wrenched back while trying to keep up with a 20-something trainer who remained convinced that at more than twice his age I could push myself further than the old body would allow. Consequently, walking is now my chosen form of exercise but it wasn’t until lockdown, with nowhere to go, that I realised just how much of a day is spent on your feet.
My normal routine might only see me walking between bus stops, across town for meetings, and taking numerous trips up and down tenement and office stairwells, but it’s amazing how it all adds up.
Truth is, I should have known, I once interviewed a Scottish health minister about a Government initiative to encourage people to use stairs rather than lifts and to enlighten us about the benefits of the everyday exercise available from doing simple things - I remember, even ironing had a keep fit value.
It wasn’t until I went for an essential shop after almost a week working from home that I realised just how much I missed that daily routine. Not only was I out of breath after three flights of stairs, my knees and lower back were radiating warning signals - hence the daily walk, ever since. These wanders have ranged from just a mile on a bad day, to seven miles on a good day (I had the blisters to show for that one), but normally work out at about four miles a day.
Going out early in the morning or in the evenings, initially it was possible to walk for an hour without seeing another soul and cross main roads without thinking. That lasted for the first few weeks at which point things began to take on a semblance of normality, despite the lockdown still being in place. Traffic increased to the point that there were queues waiting for the lights to change. When the sun came out, more and more families and friends appeared, cycling and walking in groups with little or no pretence of social distancing - for many, lockdown appears to have ended some time ago, if indeed it ever started.
Over the weeks, that disregard of the rules has grown and it will be interesting to see how restrained the public are with the further relaxation of the regulations. Already places like Portobello Beach have seen people voting with their feet, which is unfortunate as all who are shielding are put in additional danger by such behaviour.
Ultimately, we’re all responsible for our own safety but do spare a thought for those most at risk and I must admit, I’m dreading the moment those celebrating Phase Two have that one beer, wine or cocktail too many. As inhibitions go out the window, will social distancing join them?
Maybe it’s just as well pubs are still closed. Have fun by all means, but do keep safe, and not just for your own sake.
EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS
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