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The Joy of walking

By Nick Zacharias


Joy Osborne (pictured) in less restrictive days in 2019, having just hiked to the top of Whistler Blackcomb with her son – she’s keeping herself in shape at home and eager to be able to visit in person again.

“I was bored.”

So says Saint-Lazare resident Joy Osborne, by way of candid explanation for why she started tracking her daily steps on a mission to see how long it would take to complete a ‘virtual walk’ from home to Ottawa. Boredom is a state many struggle with in these days of ever-increasing COVID-19 restrictions, and Osborne has found a way to give herself the motivation to stay active and healthy every day.

“It started with an idea I had, since I was doing so much walking anyway, to record my steps every day and see how long it would take to walk a marathon,” says Osborne, who will turn 79 years old in March. Now averaging 4,000 to 5,000 steps a day, Osborne completed her marathon mission in 13 days. Not satisfied to rest on her laurels, she decided to set herself the ambitious target of virtual-walking the 96 miles (155 km) from her house to Ottawa.

Walking to Ottawa

These days she does most of her walking in the comfort of her own home. Says Osborne, “I live in a forested and shady area of Saint-Lazare, and in the winter there can be a lot of ice. After a certain age, you really have to be careful, but I have a large house and an unfinished basement so I just go around and around inside. Sometimes my cat watches me and must think, ‘Oh – there she goes again.’”

The almost-octogenarian, a former phys-ed teacher, says it feels good to move around and she is certainly fit. “I do a yoga class online twice a week, and I get my walking in at least five times a week. Sometimes I start to think, ‘oh, maybe I won’t do it today,’ but then I always tell myself ‘yes you will.’”

That determination to keep moving meant she covered the distance to Ottawa, a challenge she set for herself in November, by the time December rolled around.

Always on the move

Osborne says she likes to have a goal to reach, so when she toppled the challenge of virtual-walking to Ottawa she just kept on going. “It’s a simple little thing you can do, but it keeps me motivated. I’m now about half-way through counting down the 220,220 steps it would take me to cover the 121 miles (195 km) from Ottawa to Kingston.”

Joking about what would come next, Osborne said “We’ll see how it goes to Kingston. After that, maybe I’ll walk to the CN Tower and say hello to my daughter.”

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