Spring is definitely springing in my neck of the woods. The temperature is warming, the buds are budding and soon my neighborhood will be bursting with enough color to rival a Crayola box. It’s definitely walking weather. Not too cold, not too hot.
While I have always been an active person, walking is what I keep coming back to; it has served a lot of purposes in my life. I began walking regularly as a means to stay fit while pregnant with my first child. I walked with another friend who was also pregnant and it was nice to be physical as well as have someone to share the pregnancy experience with. Once children came along, daily walks served the purpose of punctuating the afternoon. The kids got a change of scenery and a stroller ride, the dog got a much anticipated walk and I got some physical activity and a moment to clear my head.
Though in retrospect I wonder how I was able to clear my head while wrangling a large dog on a leash, one child in a stroller and one in the baby carrier, but I digress. We all looked forward to and benefited from these walks…. such fond memories!
According to the date stamps on the back of these photos, they were all taken within 3 weeks of each other in June of 2001.
Much of how I spend my days has changed over the last 13 years but I still make time for a walk four to five days per week weather and schedule permitting. I find that I am more energized for the rest of the day and better able to focus on whatever task is at hand. While I am not a competitive person by nature and not particularly fast or graceful, I do try to improve my time or duration with each walk to keep it interesting— I sort of compete against myself I guess. I have actually begun to include running in short spurts on most days as a personal challenge. But walking is what I really enjoy and look forward to for the mental clarity that it provides.
MS Challenge Walk
I am currently preparing for a new kind of walking challenge, and have formed a small team to walk in the MS Challenge Walk in Cape Cod in September of this year. I have begun training for this by increasing my distance incrementally so that when the colors begin to change to more autumnal hues I will be up to the challenge of walking 50 miles in three days.
Walking offers many great benefits, not the least of which is that is very accessible and does not require any special skills. It can be done almost anywhere and does not require any special equipment although I strongly recommend a good pair of supportive shoes. One completely optional indulgence would be something like Pandora Radio or other such app that allows you to listen to music while walking. I use this and love it. I am able to select a playlist based on the tempo I am looking for, or music that just makes me happy.
7 Health benefits of walking:
- Walking can help you to maintain a healthy weight.
- A regular walking regimen — even 10 to 15 minutes several times a day — can help the body and digestive system function optimally.
- Walking improves your bone health, muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn can help to prevent falls and related fractures.
- A brisk 30-minute walk at least 5 days per week can decrease your risk for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. If you have difficulty walking for 30 minutes at a time, consider breaking it up into smaller chunks of time like three 10 minute walks. Taking short walks like this during the working day can help to decrease the amount of time you are sitting (sedentary behavior) during the day which has been associated with poor health outcomes even in people who do exercise. Sit less, move more!
- Exercise like walking is associated with improved sleep, either by reducing stress or simply by exerting more energy during the day.
- Walking can lift your spirits and has been shown to improve symptoms of depression.
- Some studies have shown that regular and consistent walking can improve memory and cognition as well as creativity. I can vouch for this one personally. Along with the other truly wonderful health benefits, this is what I would say is the greatest and most tangible benefit for me.
What kind of exercise do you enjoy most?