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Walking as occupation and life style changes


I have written about how my experience engaging in the occupation of walking has promoted my health and wellbeing from more than twenty years.

Walking is one of my most meaningful occupations.

Walking has appeared and disappeared over time as my life style changed.

Today I want to share with you more about a view of walking as an occupation and its role in life style change from these angles:

the form of the occupation of walking,

the function of the occupation

and the meaning of walking as an occupation. 

To look at walking, in a big occupational picture, let’s imagine me, Etsuko,

engaged in walking.

Walking as occupation and life style changes


Let’s imagine Etsuko’s life situation.

After years of living in the USA, she was employed by a Japanese university and started her new life in an unfamiliar area.

New employment in a new setting was the challenge to Etsuko from the environment at the time.

Her life was not settled down but, rather, habits and time use in life were disrupted.


Etsuko started organizing her new home and work place, creating routines

and settling into a work centered lifestyle.

However, as she got lower back pains, her life was disrupted yet.

Etsuko then had to face this new challenge.  

She started “punching” back against the environmental challenges

with her stretching exercise to stop lower back pain, and then,

gradually resumed walking.

Stretching and walking supported Etsuko’s physical and psychological

well-being to accomplish her work centered life.


Initially after being retired, Etsuko had plenty of free time amd

she enjoyed walking and stretching as much as she could.

When Etsuko decided to have her mother live with her, her lifestyle

changed once again.

Although she was busy settling into her life with her mother,

she still enjoyed stretching exercise and walking.


Last spring, walking suddenly disappeared from Etsuko’s life.

Etsuko had shoulder pain which disturbed sleep and her her doing

housework and errands.

She also got COVID-19 and was feeling its effects for two months.

She had a rest centered life.

Walking and other occupations disappeared but Etsuko continued

stretching exercise.

Her physical condition recovering, she gradually enjoyed going

walking again.


The Form of the occupation:

New employment, life with an aged parent and onset of poor physical condition

brought changes to Etsuko’s lifestyle.

After moving to new employment, job related occupations, organizing household

and basic daily routines (eating, sleeping, taking bath and going to work)

were prioritized and Etsuko’s life settled into a work centered pattern.

When she got lower back pain, however, she resumed stretching and then

walking gradually.


When Etsuko lived with her mother, she was busy organizing their new life.

She continued stretching and walking adjusting the frequency, distance

and time to their new life.


When she suffered from shoulder pain and COVID, rest, eating and

organizing food was prioritized to live.

Stretching was reopened early not to get lower back pain, and

the frequency, distance, and length of time spent of walking was

adjusted depending on her physical condition.


The function of the occupation:

When Etsuko prioritized work, walking and stretching disappeared from her life.

When lower back pain came back, however, she reopened stretching because

she knew the positive effects of stretching for her back, and she gradually

resumed walking.

Stretching and walking were effective for stopping lower back pain,

and recreation and psychological refreshment.

When her mother moved in with her, Etsuko was busy organizing

her newly shared household, but she needed and enjoyed a refreshing

walking outside in the evening.

Walking effectively provided a rhythm in her life, made a balance

between rest and productivity in her life, and helped to calm down

her feelings about her changing life.

When her lifestyle changed, other occupations (organizing household,

work relating things) were prioritized.

Although walking disappeared once, when further challenges

(lower back pain, and the worry about that, stress from the new life)

hit Etsuko, the “punch” of regaining walking and stretching appeared

to assist in benefitting her wellbeing, developing a good condition.


The meaning of the occupation:

Walking is an extremely meaningful and thus important occupation to Etsuko, but she doesn’t always engage in it in the same form.  

Depending on the situation, other occupations are sometimes prioritized and walking is not participated or in other time walking disappears because of poor physical condition and then appears later.


For Etsuko, walking organizes her physical condition, resets her ideas

and moods, makes a rhythm in her life and encourages her to promote

a healthy, happy life.

Etsuko recognizes the positive effects and goodness of walking, so that

she tries to find opportunities to engage in going walking and make it

a regular part of her life. 





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