Q: Wandering about seeing what's going on and what other people and animals are doing is good exercise for both body and mind. Visit cafes, browse in shops, visit libraries (which have useful notice boards of all kinds of local events), visit galleries, watch men digging holes in roads, etc.. If you have a bad back the exercise will probably be good for it, provided you stop walking about and take a break whenever your back starts feeling the slightest fatigued. If you push it past the point of fatigue it will start moving into bad posture, exacerbating injuries, going into injury protection muscle spasms, etc.. Carry as little as possible to begin with, and carry the weight in a bag supported symmetrically on both shoulders. That will let you walk further before the back fatigues and starts slipping into bad posture. Once you can easily walk for miles you can start experimenting with carrying heavier and less symmetrical loads. If you simply keep wandering about your mood will improve and sooner or later you'll stumble across something curious and follow it up, and sooner or later one of those will blossom unexpectedly into something quite interesting. If you haven't done much walking for a while you may at first need a day or two of rest in between walks, or to keep the walks short.
A: That's what they offered me forty years ago after a severe back injury. They said without the surgery I'd probably be able to get around, possibly with a stick, and I'd certainly never be able again to run, dance, rock climb, lift heavy furniture, etc. etc.. I decided to try disbelieving them. Today I can do all of those things, and while my back is always going to have some problems and need care, it's a lot stronger and more capable than most backs in their mid sixties. Careful with the drugs. They can mask the pain and allow you to exacerbate the injuries without realising it. For example I rarely drink, but whenever I have a pint or two of an evening I have a sore back the next day, because the alcohol masked the pain of sitting around in a bad position, stopped me fidgeting and moving around to relieve the pain, and so caused some slight injury to my back. I prefer to use the pain as a guide to navigation in the recovery jungle. Anything that hurts I stop doing. Anything (except taking pain killers :-) which reduces hurt I do more of. If you keep using that kind of pain compass it may be able to guide you over time to a place where there is much less pain.