Cool. Actually OK, A bit off topic strictly from a walk cycle. But not so when you consider that these same things need to be taken into account.
I actually agree that I would treat such an animation as one action. I am not much into automation. For the reasons stated above.
But also I always try to drive this following point home to animators.
Think in terms of shots.
If you are putting together a reel to show that you can move a whole character that is one thing. In this case it is still a good idea to show a variety of shots. And I understand from an academic perspective, one is working toward mastery of the full character. An in these animation contests, you often see here and on other boards, the animators usually show the whole character the whole time through every action.
But when you get to the job - be that a position as an animator in a group project or one of your own - you will be handed a shot from the director. Even if you are the director. Story and direction come first. Storyboard and animation come second. In that order: Story, Direction, Storyboard, Animation.
The reason is because film has a language. Shots are like words and strung together make sentences that can convey entirely new meanings than the words themselves.
If you only show wide angle shots, you are not using the entire vocabulary of cinema.
So although academically speaking one should be able to walk over and pick up an apple in one continuous action, this is only one kind of shot.
So animation should be thought of just like film - a series of shots to convey a meaning.
One might have Character A walking for 2 or 3 seconds.
Cut to a reaction of another - Character B.
Cut to a hand reaching for the apple.
Cut to Character A anticipating eating the apple. (apple and hand out of shot)
Cut to Character B wincing as you hear the apple being bitten into and chewed.
Cut to the Character A spitting out the apple chunks.
Now you put this sequence alone. It can mean anything.
Start the sequence out by first showing Character B who was reacting having just seen a worm crawl into the apple then put it down and walk away. Then he hears someone enter (Character A) , he turns and looks. Then the above sequence has a new meaning.
A bit off topic but the point is, to convey meaning in animation just as in other forms of cinema you do so by shot selection and what action is shown in each shot.
More meaning can be conveyed in some cases by what is not shown. You can cut out parts of action to move things along. Does the audience really need to see the character walk all the way across the room and pick up the apple?
You could even have a character come in and look. Apple in foreground on table.
Shot on apple.
Hand enters frame grabs apple.
Shot on character putting apple to mouth.
In this sequence the walking and other action is completely removed. The audience can accept that the character walked over to get the apple. They don’t need to even see this. They don’t even need to see a wide shot of the table and the character with the apple. This can all be left out to save time and to convey specific meaning.
This is a very common technique in filmmaking and animators can use it to their advantage.
If something is very hard to do all in one action. Figure out ways to break it up. Don’t be a purist. You may find there are more clever ways to show something and convey more meaning.
In short, film rarely happens in real time. That is boring to an audience. They don’t need to see everything all the time.
As an animator/storyteller use that to your advantage.