I’m don’t know why I’m so lazy, but walking is the bare minimum exercise that I force myself to do on a daily basis. In Chiang Mai, the preferred mode of transport is definitely by scooter, but this beautiful city is so walkable, it stumps me why so few people walk.
The route is not mapped out and your legs simply carry you. Inhaling deeply, your lungs fill to full capacity with air of a questionable quality, and you feel alive.
It’s a form of meditation: one foot in front of the other, getting lost in the deepest of thoughts, taking in all of your surroundings.
Just brave the outside world and walk.
But. Sometimes I need to have an end goal – I need a measurable target to motivate myself to get off my ass.
Getting hold of a step-counter (eg a fitbit or an app on your phone) can really help you achieve a daily step goal. Having your steps quantified can certainly help in seeing how much more you walk. I love being able to see how far I’ve walked and it makes me feel great knowing I haven’t just wasted time being idle indoors.
Okay – so this requires using your phone (but hey, we live in a technological age, so why completely eschew our mobiles?) and also you will need a pen.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, it opens up your GPS and you walk to real life spaces. By a certain space, there is a secret hidden cache somewhere – these can vary from the size of a penlid to a large tupperware box – which you have to locate using your GPS location and the clues on the app. Once you locate the cache, you write your name & the date you found the cache, and you move on to the next one. Some of the larger caches contain little “treasures” which you can take and keep, and replace with an item for the next geocacher who comes along. I have found badges, foreign currency, and short poems in these little magical caches.
What is great about this is you get to see well-known routes with a fresh pair of eyes. In my local park alone there are a handful of geocaches hidden away in plain sight. It feels great to be sneaking around, trying to locate this little treasure! Not only does it give your walk purpose, it is also fun to be part of a secret community
I get a real kick out of not spending money on public transport whenever this is possible. I feel a sense of accomplishment if I walk a few miles to reach my destination whilst saving a bit of cash too. Not only do you no longer have to rely on dodgy transport-timetables, you can fall in love with your surroundings again. You really can miss so much if you are zooming underground on the tube or whizzing past in a bus.
Online gaming to get you out of the house? Yes please!
Anyway, so this app (it’s free by the way) is similar to Geocaching in the sense that it is GPS based. You need to be outside to play and the rules are simple:
- Pick a team (Enlightened or Resistance)
- Hack enemy & friendly portals to gain kit (XM bursters, resonators, and other “mods”. You will gain experience from this, so that you can level up quickly
- Capture neutral portals for your team as well as attack enemy portals to neutralise them.
- Link friendly portals via keys obtained from hacking to create fields to gain points
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
So what makes this game fun? You’re walking around, you get to walk (or run) to portals and battle against other players. The Ingress community is also very social, so you get to go to meet ups and interact with fellow players of the game.
This game is extremely absorbing: you really feel peeved if someone neutralises your portal and you feel euphoric when you attack an enemy portal and claim it as your own. There are a few more rules to the game, but I’ll leave you to discover them on your own.
Just as a final note though, Ingress also lets you see what distances you’ve covered. I’ve been playing on and off for a few months, and have walked over 250km.
The creators of Ingress then went on to make Pokemon Go. Though the craze has died down a lot since it came out last year, but I occasionally crack out my phone and play these games to up my step count.