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Why I Walk with my Cat

One month ago, I was not a walker. I’m a Type-A, on-the-go kind of person. My schedule is always packed with classes, work, and meetings. I’ve always said, “Why walk when you can run?”

Once quarantine happened, I was forced to slow down. Truthfully, I really don’t have the motivation to work out in the same capacity I did when my gym was open. Days are running together, and time seems blurred. Now, I’m just focusing on movement. To do that, no one holds me more accountable than my cat! He knows when it’s noon and it’s time to go out. Our first walk which mostly happened because I wanted to prove that I could walk my cat, but since then I’ve found that there are other reasons to walk.

First, making a walk part of my routine makes sure that I get outside. When there’s no reason to leave the house, it can be easy to never see the sun. Even if we don’t walk fast or far, I find that I appreciate soaking up the sun and breathing some fresh air. Just 15 minutes of sunlight can help you synthesize Vitamin D! Plus, it helps you get your steps in. Although I walk much less than I do on an average day in the city, it’s important to stand up, stretch, and take a break from staring at a screen.

Secondly, we’re completely in the moment. Truth be told, it’s not as much a walk as it is an exploration. We explore our minds, our neighbor’s lawn, and what the moment calls for. Although we can’t walk forever and we do have to get back to class eventually, it’s important to set a time to take a break from work. I realized that before quarantine, a “chill” night meant watching Netflix with my roommates, but my laptop was still out and I was doing some work. I never truly took the time to disconnect. Walking with my cat, who often needs gentle redirection to not go up my neighbor’s driveway and therefore requires my constant attention, ensures that I am spending 30 minutes fully focused on the task at hand without attempting to multitask.

Finally, there is no destination. When I’m walking in the city, I’m always going somewhere. Whether it be class, a meeting, or the grocery store, I would never walk anywhere unless there was a destination. I’m always on-the-go and worried about where I’m not going and not how I’m getting there. We both know that we’ll end up back at the house when the walk is over, so we’ve been enjoying the moment. I let my cat take the lead with where and how fast we go, letting him explore without straying too far off the path. We take the time to sniff every tree, gaze down at the sewers, and watch birds fly overhead.

If you’ve got a cat, dog, or family to walk with, I suggest you walk for the sake of walking. We don’t have too many opportunities to breathe and enjoy the scenery. Quarantine is a great time to practice enjoying the journey!

-Nikki Vivekanandan

A second-year undergraduate student at The George Washington University studying nutrition science, Nikki is passionate about diversity and inclusion in the fitness industry. Her favorite forms of exercise include lifting, yoga, and walking her cat. She also runs a wellness blog:

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