Before I quit smoking I hated walking, or any kind of exercise. I would make my walks as short as possible. As a New Yorker with access to cabs on almost every corner I would hop in a cab to do almost any chore. Or if I absolutely had to walk, I’d do so grudgingly, with an attitude to boot.
1 month into my journey of not smoking I took up walking to help cope with the nervous energy that I experienced from having no nicotine in my body. At first I would walk the track near my home for a few minutes, maybe going around it twice. And be done, tired, sweat dripping and ready for a nap.
Today, 10 months into my journey of not smoking I walk for fun, and every chance I get. Instead of getting on the bus after dropping my child to school, I choose to walk the 3 miles home. On my days off I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to the new home of the Brooklyn Nets, which is close to 8 miles, give or take.
Walking allows me the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the world around me without the rush of daily life. Walking allows me to focus on nature, which is hard to do when on a crowded subway, or flying past in a car. I thought that I would lose this love in the winter because it can be brutally cold but I just add an extra layer of clothing and go outside and walk.
The benefits for me have been plentiful. The first one is that walking has allowed me to not gain the dreaded weight most people gain when they quit smoking. But more importantly, walking gives me the opportunity to tune out the world and listen to myself, It allows me the opportunity to clear my mind of the other aspects of life that always vie for my attention and focus on the here and now, which helps to keep me grounded.