19 September 2008

Walking and Listening

I walk about 2.5 miles every day--ok, almost every day! From spring to fall, I fitness walk (i.e., keep up a fast pace) outside in the evening after work. I live at the base of a mountain (this is Pennsylvania, not Colorado, so get the right picture in your mind!), and thus my outdoor walks include sections with a fairly steep grade. I have a favorite route and two alternates (one easier and one harder than my favorite).

I always listen to a book when I walk. I clip my mp3 player to my waistband, put my earbuds on, and off I go. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm listening to music, but I prefer getting in some extra reading time. I've noticed that the type of book I'm listening to affects my walking speed. My pace is up when I'm listening to a mystery or fantasy, especially during a chase scene, shootout, or battle. When I'm listening to literary fiction or history, I tend to walk a bit slower to allow my mind to savor the words instead of focusing on my heart rate.

After I return home, I tend to keep listening while I cool down and then head for the kitchen to make dinner. I don't turn the player off until my husband walks in the door. Well, sometimes I tell him that I have to listen just a bit more so I can finish an episode or chapter in the book before I quit.

During the rest of the year, I walk at home on the treadmill. (I don't feel comfortable walking in the dark by myself, even in our safe and small town.) I like to adjust the speed and incline as I walk, and this means I'm not as focused on my book because I need to pay attention to the machine's controls. Sometimes I program the treadmill so adjustments are made automatically, but I still have to be prepared for the changes. Nevertheless, I never walk without a book in my ears.


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