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Lessons on Mobility from my Dad

In the last several years that I’ve been living in Florida, I've been taking a lot of walks. Walks alone on beautiful nature trails, walks with friends for exercise, walk n' talks, walks while talking to far-away friends and family on the phone, mindful walks, or walking meditation. It has become a core part of my mental and physical fitness routine. It’s one of my favorite things to share regarding wellness.

While I was walking on the beach this past weekend, I reflected on my dad’s profession. He is a prosthetist and makes artificial limbs for a living. I have always found his story to be interesting and inspiring beyond the fact that he's my dad. One thing I will share now is that he got into the profession because he lost a limb at 19. He lost his right leg below the knee as the result of a drunk driver pinning him between his car and their car one tragic night. The other leg was also badly damaged but was saved. He went from working a manufacturing job to becoming a prosthetist, at the urging of his doctor, after they examined my dad's self-taught modifications of his first prosthesis so he could walk on it more comfortably. Mobility and proper fit for his patients has been his mantra ever since. I grew up with a dad who walked wherever we did, snow-skied, water-skied, went camping, boating, sailing, did yoga, bike riding, and whose prosthesis was barely or non-noticeable to people who weren’t aware.

I have watched him tinker with his prosthetic legs in his garage, work in his lab, visit patients in hospitals, and I've helped him in the physical therapy room when his patients first began to walk on their new prostheses, fearful and excited, hoping to get their lives back. He has made dreams come true for people who wanted mobility to walk down the aisle at their wedding or come down to the sidewalk to play with their grandchildren without depending on a wheelchair.

As I reflect lately on the energizing, healing, and restorative effects of walking, an act that so many of us can take for granted, like breathing, until we begin to have difficulty with it, I thought about his commitment to mobility and how important it is for our total health.

I lived in NYC for 25 years, and although I knew I loved walking, I often thought of it as just the function of being an observer, an artist, a people-watcher, and just loving the city. Now I realize all of that daily walking had health benefits beyond the obvious of at least getting some exercise while enjoying myself. Walking is a complex process for our brain and helps us to keep young in so many ways.

The science is coming out on measurable benefits, and I plan to explore all of the ways walking feeds the body, mind, and soul.

Stay tuned for the next installments and a guide to walking practices. Until then, please go outside if you can and enjoy!

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