Tasneem Kapadia – a 71 year old resident of Los Angeles and former hospice social worker – reflects on how daily walking has given her a deeper understanding of life

During my career as a medical social worker, my most significant experience was working with terminally ill patients.  One of the valuable lessons I learned from that period was to take care of my emotional and physical health as both are inextricably linked. 

As a professional hospice social worker, my role was to support patients and their families as they experienced the extreme emotional and physical pain that accompanies a life-threatening illness.  I realized that working in this profession took a great toll on my mental health, and so I created a sanctuary to address my patients’ and families’ struggles effectively while maintaining my personal well-being.  By engaging in purposeful physical activity such as jogging, cycling, swimming, and lifting weights, I learned to enjoy my work and created a foundation for strong coping skills.

Tasneem Kapadia - a 71 year old resident of Los Angeles and a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Community

Practicing a range of physical activities has been a significant part of my well-being over the years.

My primary passion is swimming.  It has taught me to relax my muscles and let buoyancy take over, leaving me to feel like I am floating on clouds.

I have practiced martial arts and  Tai Chi — two very different disciplines.  Martial arts is intense, teaching one to appreciate and utilize effective physical movements.  Its emphasis on partners, not opponents, is a powerful concept in self-development.  On the other hand, Tai Chi’s primary focus is to slow down and go inward.

I have always been a cyclist enthusiast.  I learned to appreciate the invisible and calming force of the cool breeze gently brushing my movements and guiding me on my path as I cycle outdoors.

I surprised myself by learning to relish the ‘runner’s high’ during my winter jogs and have enjoyed the solitude that a long winter run can give.

Yoga has taught me to be flexible and develop inner strength, while leading me to live in the moment.

All these exercise routines enhanced my strength, balance, and flexibility.

This past year, the leader of the Dawoodi Bohras, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, has encouraged Dawoodi Bohras worldwide to take care of their health and well-being by maintaining their physical fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Following this counsel, the Saifee Burhani Medical Association (America) – a group of medical professionals  from the global Dawoodi Bohra faith – established a contest to encourage us to walk each day and record our daily steps for a month. Prizes were awarded based on the participants’ maximum number of steps.

As a 71-year old, I was surprised to learn that I had earned 4th place in this global initiative with a step count totaling 760,630 steps in this month-long challenge.  I am humbled and thankful for the recognition, and I want to share how my participation in this initiative has left me with a deeper understanding of life.

I enjoyed walking before this initiative, but never with such intensity, consistency, and commitment. What motivated me to exceed my everyday goal was how happy I felt when walking outdoors.  There was never a time when I wanted to give up. 

I truly enjoyed the quiet breeze gently coaxing me and welcoming me every early morning when I would begin my walks. The sounds of chirping birds, the sun peeking through the clouds, the changing colors of the trees in fall, and the natural beauty of magnificent mountains surrounding me filled my heart with awe and peace.  This has led to an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

His Holiness’ counsel was my inspiration to do my best with passion.  The added spiritual element to this physical activity motivated me further.  For me, each step was like a ritualistic, spiritual motion not unlike the passing of a prayer bead between one’s fingers.  The spirituality prodded me to better take notice of the physical world around me. 

Moreover, I controlled my sugar cravings with snacks of nuts and fruits, with the only exception being my occasional indulgence in a special chocolate as a reward.  Overall, I focused on a healthy diet.  And, I must add, my elevated cholesterol levels have notably reduced.

I learned that getting older is unavoidable, but there is no excuse for not undertaking a daily workout and walking is the best exercise.  Incorporating exercise in my daily routine helps to achieve sustainable life changes and gives one fulfillment and strength to lead the life one seeks.  There is so much we can learn from adopting a more active lifestyle, and I hope that my story can inspire everyone to prioritize their holistic well-being, especially their physical health.

2 thoughts on “Tasneem Kapadia – a 71 year old resident of Los Angeles and former hospice social worker – reflects on how daily walking has given her a deeper understanding of life

  1. Insiyah Jamali says:

    Amazing insight into physical wellbeing and emotional health. I lived what you wrote Tasneem ben.

  2. Ranjana Salvi says:

    Well done Tasneem. You are an inspiration to other 71 year old.. going to become s regular walker too.

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