Walking therapy: how lockdown intensified friendship


When there’s no news to exchange, there’s nowhere for conversation to go but to the true state of our lives and psyches

Two by two, they pick their way through the mud. The quiet lanes and bridleways that were once the sole preserve of lone dog walkers in my neighbourhood are full of couples these days, but they’re not couples in the conventional sense. They’re pairs of friends, nearly always female, happily absorbed in what one of my own favourite walking partners calls the weekly moan.

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Until this lockdown, I hadn’t realised that walking and talking was a recognised form of therapy, based on the idea that it’s easier to unburden yourself of something difficult when trudging along companionably in the open air than when lying on a consulting room couch. Something to do with the soothing rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, maybe, or not having to look the counsellor in the eye. But anyway, now that the only way of seeing a friend in person is to wade through the puddles together and pretend that counts as exercise, it makes a lot more sense.

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