Walking my way through lockdown

May 15, 2020 | 8 comments |

Like many of you, and although certain restrictions have eased a bit, I live in an area where we’re still sheltering in place and ‘normal life’ remains in almost complete lockdown.

As such, and with gyms, my dance studio and other fitness facilities closed, walking is even more of a lifeline for me than usual.

Together with improved physical and mental health, my daily walk (whether with Floppy Ears or alone) often gives me life lessons too.

 Creative thinking

With Tech Guy working in my home office space and English Rose doing online school throughout the house, I currently write at a desk in the living room—in the middle of the main family traffic flow.

As the lines between my wife, mom and writing lives blur, going for a walk is one of the few times during the day when I’m not interrupted and can let my mind wander in a way introverted me craves.

From resolving plot problems to generating new story ideas or simply letting my thoughts drift, my walk is a precious time for self-care and creative thinking.

An antidote to pandemic snacking—burning calories

Although I do some ballet exercises at home, they don’t give me the same kind of work-out I get in the studio.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FEBakingMay2020-768x1024.jpgAnd with Tech Guy cooking gourmet meals, English Rose baking several times a week, and working at a desk that’s in view of the refrigerator, it’s all too easy for me to ‘eat’ the days away.

Along with practicing more willpower, brisk walking helps me keep snacking (and excess pounds) at bay.

Improved health and mood

Even before the current pandemic situation, walking helped alleviate my chronic back pain and, as an asthmatic, improve respiratory function.

While that’s still the case, now more than ever walking outdoors also lifts my mood, helps me recharge mentally and emotionally and gives me increased energy, especially mid-afternoon, usually the ‘low ebb’ of my day.

Exploring my neighbourhood

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is TulipsSpring2019-1024x954.jpgNot least, I’ve got to know my small town better in these past weeks than in the almost five years we’ve lived here.

Unable to chat with neighbours (except at a distance), I’ve paid more attention to gardens, public green spaces and even churchyards, delving into the history of my community from the days of early settlers until now.

And at this particularly difficult time, it’s in those churchyards that I’ve found both comfort and a sense of continuity in the example of past lives lived.

Life lessons

Until March, I’d never ventured inside one of the cemeteries within easy walking distance of my home. Now, however, it’s an ideal place to social distance, and as I read the inscriptions on tombstones from the nineteenth century (old by Canadian standards) to the present day, I’m reminded that life has never been without challenges.

Along with getting a character name for a future book from the grave of a woman born in 1880 (my writer’s brain never truly switches off), these cemetery walks have also made me think about how short life is and to truly value and ‘live’ the time I’ve still got.

And like the man whose epitaph is “Lived–Trucked–Worked–Loved Forever,” life is indeed about the simple things—a useful adage when life as many of us know it is still turned upside down.

Happy walking to all of you who are also fans of this easy to start and low impact, although often underrated, form of exercise. 



  1. Deb

    Jen – so true – walking is my go-to stress-reliever. And inspired a story. It’s a must to get up from the desk and get air and exercise. And fun “meeting” neighbors, the ones I’ve waved to for years and hollered a hello, but never stopped to chat with until now (from a distance, of course,) with lives always too busy.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks for sharing how and why walking is important to you, Deb. It’s great it also inspired a story too. Happy walking!

  2. Heidi Vanstone

    Yes, walking has been a “go-to” activity for our whole family. And, our dog has never been fitter!
    With regards to your wanderings through cemeteries, it brought to mind a wise saying I heard: “It’s the years between the dash that counts.” *ex. 1901-1987) And so, I am trying to live these days with intention and gratitude. I am so grateful that we can walk! I think it was St. Augustine who said that “All things can be worked out by walking”. Good food for thought!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Your comment made me chuckle, Heidi, because our Floppy Ears has never been fitter, either. One day last week she had four walks! I appreciate you sharing that food for thought too. Like you, I’m trying to make the most of the “years between the days.” Happy walking to all of you!

  3. Lydia

    Walking is one of my favourite relaxing activities, too, especially when it involves cemeteries. It’s so interesting to read the headstones of the people buried there and think about what their lives must have been like.

    May you and your family be well. 🙂

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you for reading and commenting on my post, Lydia. I’m glad to ‘meet’ someone else who finds cemetery walks as interesting as I do. I visit many cemeteries at a distance from my home but for whatever reason hadn’t explored some of the ones on my own doorstep.

      We’re still well and safe here and I hope you and yours are the same.

  4. Susanna Bavin

    Walking is such an important activity at the moment. Of course, it always is, because it makes us feel good, but at present getting out and about matters more than ever. I loved what Heidi said about her dog never having been fitter. I’m sure that applies to many dogs at present. I am also enjoying doing the garden, which is not just exercise but also very therapeutic. Sending very best wishes to you and your family xxx

    • Jen Gilroy

      Our Floppy Ears is very fit at present too, Susanna. One day last week she had four walks instead of her usual two! I’m glad you’re enjoying working in your garden and hopefully some seaside walks as well. Sending good wishes to you & yours in return. xxx


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