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Walking as occupation


I wrote about my experience that aerobics didn’t last

as I faced new environmental challenges in my last post.

Today I want to share with you more about a view of

walking as occupation from these angles:

the form of the occupation of aerobic exercise,

the function of the occupation

and the meaning of aerobic exercise as an occupation. 

To look at a big occupational picture.

let’s imagine me, Etsuko, engaged in walking.

Walking as occupation


            [The Kite festival in Seal Beach]


The situation

First, let's start by considering the situation before Etsuko started walking.

Etsuko was excited by studying occupational science in the U.S.

but was challenged by the language barrier and academic pressure.

Etsuko repeatedly spent most of her day in a library or in her room.

Her exercise habit disappeared totally and she got low back pain, so she couldn’t continue her academic work.

That was the challenge to Etsuko from the environment.

Etsuko was at a loss. Her wellbeing was damaged.

She had to change the situation and the environment.

To get better and to promote her well-being and the quality of her life, she had to confront the challenge of this environment.

Now, we can look at a big occupational picture about what her walking and stretching entailed,

The Form of the occupation

Let's think about the form of the walking and stretching she engaged in:

about the who, when, where, what, how, with whom, how long

and how often of the occupational participation.

Every evening at 5 pm, Etsuko left her desk and the computer, and stretched her whole body and went walking.


She engaged in walking every day, starting for twenty minutes, then gradually

extended to 60 minutes.

Walking was Etsuko’s routine and a part of her life throughout the year.

She continued this routine till the end of her international student life and

her return to Japan.

The Function of the occupation

Next let's look at the function of the walking.

We need to consider:

              How did engagement in walking change her life?

              How did it promote her health and well-being?

Etsuko chose walking and stretching as an easily available activity

to perform in her busy life.

Repeating walking and stretching every day brought physical effects:

reduction and further avoidance of low back pain and improvement

in her physical strength.

That also helped her to work at the desk for long time continuously

without the low back pain limiting her academic work.

We can also consider the mental effects of her walking.

Stretching her whole body in fresh air outside

and walking in the neighborhood receiving varied stimuli

enabled her to refresh and thus relieve the stress and anxiety

caused by her academic work.

That refreshed mental state also supported her to focus on her work again.

The walking and stretching became a pleasure in her daily life,

It also created a rhythm in her daily routine, gave her the power

to push her life to face tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,

and then propelled her life forward.

Repeating everyday effects supported her ability to continue and

complete her student life.

She was grateful that the occupation of walking promoted health

and well-being and inspired her to stay involved in her academic work.


The meaning of the occupation

Finally, we think about the meaning of the walking and stretching to Etsuko. 

It was getting harder for Etsuko to focus on her study when her physical problems,

stress, and anxiety about the future challenged her.

Confronting these challenges from the environment, Etsuko hit the environment

with the punch from “walking.”    

Walking organized her physical condition and encouraged her to continue

her academic work.

Also, it relieved her stress and anxiety enough that she looked forward

to walking in the evening and created a rhythm in her daily life.

Walking was her punch to confront academic stress and future anxiety and

supported her ability to continue her good life.

Walking had come to mean an essential part of Etsuko’s life through which

she could fight a difficult environment and help her to successfully fit

the environment both physically and mentally.

It also means Etsuko found and used it as the punch or drive to keep going

forward in her life.


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