The Power of a Walk: 'Stepping' up the positivity
Sometimes you need to hit the big 40something to appreciate what you took for granted in your 20s and for me walking is a privilege that just now I am coming to not just appreciate but to treasure for benefits that far transcend mere calorie burning.
It is something that I just can’t recommend enough. I’ve always loved the outdoors and walking has always been my preferred method of exercise and therapy. While I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like with fitness in general, walking is the one activity that I never fully gave up.
Sophomore year in high school I ran cross-country and won the Most Improved Runner award at the end of the season. Even though at meets I was always last or second to last I was much better than I was at the beginning of the season.
Some of the best times in my 20s were spent outdoors where at that time I could easily walk five miles a day.
“Wow, Cynthia! Five miles a day?! You must have been a twig!”
Actually, I wasn’t. To this day I struggle with my weight. A lot. Other issues involved but that’s a whole other.... blog.
But in spite of those challenges, walking has been my constant companion; sometimes we drifted apart for weeks or months at a time (the consistency thing) but I always came back sooner or later.
About three years ago, something inside me clicked and I decided on the spot that I would never again give up this God-given remedy to physical and inner wellness, which in turn leads to increased work and life productivity.
- Why do I love walking? Where to start....
- I feel empowered and in control; like I took the beast by the horns.
- It makes me feel like I’m swimming rather than sinking.
- I love knowing I did something good for my body
- It clears and detoxes my mind
- Cold or warm, rain or shine, the fresh air is healing.
- I do some of my best thinking (and praying) when I’m walking.
- It fosters a love and respect for my body.
- It makes me appreciate that I have full use of my body.
- It’s one of my “me” (and God) times.
- It stimulates circulation and breathing.
- I feel connected and centered.
- I sleep better at night.
- It fuels creativity
- It sharpens focus.
- It evens out emotions.
- It decreases depression (personal experience, not medical advice)
- It boosts my overall outlook and state of mind.
- It’s free.
Rain or shine, warm or cold, nothing revives my spirit and my body like a fresh air walk. Cold? dress warmly! Sprinkling? That's what umbrellas are for! Hot? Walk in the evening! Just do it! It will do wonders for your state of mind.
Combined, all these benefits result in increased quality of life and productivity. When I’m consistent, I experience these benefits to the –nth power.
The opposite is also true; when I slack off, it’s yuck city to the –nth power; I feel disconnected, unmotivated, foggy and generally out of sync with who I really am and what I’m really capable of. I become very susceptible to falling into a rut.
And when I start walking again, it takes about five seconds to remember why I love it and make me wonder why I ever stopped.
“All that from walking, you drama queen?”
God gave us everything we need to thrive, not just survive inside and out, and most of them are free; for the purpose of this post we’ll stick to walking, fresh air and water.
An all-knowing and powerful God did not make His ultimate creative masterpiece (you and me) in a way that “maintenance” required something we don’t inherently posses or couldn’t easily acquire. He gave us physical activity as a means of keeping our bodies and minds healthy.
So if you’ve never given it a try, now is a good a time as any to experience for yourself the power of a walk.
- Start by picking a spot that is familiar and comfortable to you, or just do the best with what you’ve got: walk around the block, stroll through a local park, walk around inside the mall the twice.
- Experiment with times of day. Try a few walks in the morning and a few late afternoon or evening. Early morning helps energize and center you for the day ahead; evening helps you clear your mind and relax your body for a good night’s rest. Find what works best for you.
- Walk in public areas, make sure they are safe and well-lit and somewhat busy or visible. Let someone know where and how long you’ll be.
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes. They don’t have to be expensive athletic shoes, just comfy and sturdy.
- Water bottle. Self-explanatory.
- Walk, talk to God, breathe in fresh air, exhale stress and negativity, feel grateful that you are blessed with full use of your body, repeat for at least 30 minutes four times per week.
- And thereafter, make walking a priority as much as anything else that's important; choose walking over TV for physical benefits and walking over self-pity, drama or negative emotions for inner wellness.
Making walking a consistent part of your life doesn’t solve all your problems, but it will equip you with the right state of mind and boost your overall physical health to help you keep living with the right perspective and strength that in turn foster an increased quality of life.
It has the power to just.make.you.happier. What a concept.
Oh, yeah… and you’ll burn some calories too.