Walk! Don’t Cultivate the Street Car Habit

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, August 23, 1912:  Didn’t do so very much today and didn’t go any place either.

Me walking down a road in McEwenville.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sounds like a boring day. Maybe Grandma should have taken a walk. I know that I always feel better after a brisk walk—and she probably would have felt better, too.

Today we constantly hear in the media that we aren’t active enough. Amazingly there were similar concerns a hundred years ago:

Walking is one of the most healthful forms of exercise. It may seem unnecessary to devote much space to a subject that everyone thinks they know all about, but the fact is that, with trolley cars, automobiles, and horses, a great many persons have lost the ability to walk any distance.

It is very easy to cultivate the street car habit. An excellent rule to follow if you are going anywhere is this: If you have time, and the distance is not too great, walk.

In walking for pleasure, avoid a rambling, purposeless style. Decide where you are going and go.

Walk out in the country if possible and on roads where the automobiles will not endanger your life or blow clouds of dust in your face.

Never mind the weather. One rarely takes cold while in motion.

To walk comfortably you should wear loose clothing and old shoes.

Walking just for the sake of exercise can easily become a tiresome occupation, but the active mind can always see something of interest, such as wild flowers, gardens, and all the various sides of nature study in the country, and people, houses, and life in the city.

Outdoor Sports by Claude H. Miller (1911)

17 Responses

  1. I definitely should be walking more. My main exercise for the week is mowing the lawn.

  2. I wear my Ipod and walk around and look at homes, maybe listing to Hawaiian Music. It’s fab. That story says “wear loose clothing & old shoes”, I chuckled because I’m sure that’s all my daddy ever had. Handme downs that were oversized and worn out shoes.

  3. Never mind the weather? Well, I suppose that’s good advice. McEwenville looks like a peaceful place.

  4. I love a nice walk in the fields.

    • I also like to walk in fields. My daughter says that fields are boring to walk in, but I find them very peaceful. I enjoy looking at the nature, and how it changes from day-to-day and week-to-week..

      • I’m exactly the same. I love to walk in the fields, especially this time of year when the blackberries and other berries are ripening in the hedges. It’s lovely to be out in nature and watch the seasons change.

  5. Now that the morning temps and humidity will be lowering, I can get back to morning walking. I, too, feel better after a brisk walk.

  6. What a cute photo!

    I try to take binoculars on outdoor walks. You never know when you’ll spot a new bird, or a familiar bird doing new things!

    “To learn something new, take the path you took yesterday.” – John Burroughs

    • What a insightful quote. I often take the same route when I walk around my neighborhood, and I love how I notice all the small changes–flowers blooming that weren’t blooming the previous day, a lawn that has been mowed (or needs to be mowed), etc.

  7. I like the advice to “Walk out in the country if possible and on roads where the automobiles will not endanger your life or blow clouds of dust in your face.” Today in most places no matter where you walk there are cars and instead of dust we have fumes to deal with! Even along our bike/walking path we have the highway. But still, there is nothing more refreshing than going for a nice walk especially in autumn! I like the quote from Ivy Green, thanks for sharing that.

    • Cars and their fumes seem to be everywhere–but fortunately there are some really nice paths that go through the woods near my home.

  8. I heartily recommend walking for anyone who wants to write. There is something about the pace that creates a rhythm… and when you walk you notice so much around you. I don’t drive… I walk everywhere I go unless it’s miles, then I have a few good friends who drive me but for the most part I walk everywhere. When I’m stuck in the house from bad weather I feel it physically. It’s probably the thing that keeps me the most healthy of anything I do.

    • Walking does create a nice pace for noticing things–which is key for writing.

      I also think that walking is good for me–and try to walk several miles each day.

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