Footing

In my 20s I used to smoke a lot and never did any exercise beyond walking to the pub. When I got to the grand old age of 29 I realised that if I did not make some changes to my lifestlye then I would start getting old pretty fast.

So, I quit the cigarettes, I cut back on the booze, and I integrated exercise into my daily life. For several years that meant cycling everywhere. I was cycling around the streets of London – commuting by bike and covering at least 30km everyday.

Now I have moved to São Paulo and after the initial chaos of moving house and country, I wanted to get back into some regular exercise again, but I’m mainly working at home now. So I checked with a few local gyms – all the gyms I asked are actually far more expensive than the gyms in London. In fact the gym closest to me wants nearly £100 a month and an extortionate ‘joining fee’.

It shocked me. Millions in Brazil (not in São Paulo obviously) live on less than that amount a month as their total income. I assumed the gym in Brazil would be cheaper than in London.

So to cut a long story short, I now pound the streets ‘Rocky’-style every morning. Road running and doing laps of my local park. I have also set up some boxing bags and equipment at home, so I can do fight training in my own basement.

But what interests me is that when I go to the park, nobody is running. Everyone is out there walking and waving their arms about in mad circular movements – ‘footing’ as it’s called locally. And this is not the power-walking of someone not quite fit enough to run, but still raising their pulse a few notches, it is literally people out having a morning stroll.

Nothing wrong in that, but many of these people arrive at the park by car – I see them parking. They probably spend a lot of their day driving kids to school, or driving to work. Instead of walking in circuits around the park and then driving home, why don’t they just incorporate some additional walking into their daily routine?

People always complain they don’t have time for exercise and then they do something like driving the kids to a school when it would be a 15 minute walk… None of it makes sense to me, and those waving circular arm movements can be dangerous to run past!

Oxford train station - do not run

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