Do the Walk of Life
Today I went on yet another 30 minute daily walk. I try to go early because it’s so friggin’ hot and humid here in Austin, Texas in late June. Summer came early this year (thanks, global warming!). While there are strategies for dealing with the heat that I outlined in a previous blog, acclimation – getting used to it – is inevitable if you want to keep up a fitness routine. (Thanks to Julie78787 for reminding us of this important step.)
But I’m finding my walking is getting a little stagnant. I’m not a morning person but that’s the best time to go to get some Vitamin D without too much harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It’s not led to any weight loss, noticeable gains in strength, or huge uplift in my mood. But I keep doing it because I believe that it will pay long-term benefits. Here are some:
Some Benefits of Walking
Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com
Mobility: Obviously, a key benefit is keeping the joints, muscles and blood moving is crucial to reduce aging. While it may not seem like it, or be very subtle, walking is good for that.
Self-care: When you walk every day, you’re taking care of yourself. It’s a whole body-mind experience and says to yourself that you’re doing something for you. Aside from shoes and clothes, maybe sunscreen or raingear, if you are able to walk, it’s the easiest way to have you time.
Stress reduction: This comes with even one walk, but more so with regular walking. Especially if you walk purposefully, with good posture and your head up, and BREATHE, these things create a different mind-body state. I find, and think you will too, that your thoughts turn toward more pleasant things more often than not when walking.
Nature: Fresh air, green trees, and whatever your environment is cannot be appreciated well from a car, and not even as much on a bike because you’re whizzing by too fast. Really seeing what’s around you has a healing effect.
Community: Talking to people you see on your walk is a way to get out of your own head and pay attention to your surroundings. You never know what may come of it. An offer of a glass of water, a sprig of a plant, free stuff people leave in front of their houses, etc.
Tips to Help You Keep at It
If you have or are trying to start a walking practice, sticking with it is a good idea and will pay you rewards, both noticeable and not. Maybe you’ve heard these before, but they bear repeating. Here are some tips to help you out:
Location: If it’s too hot, walk early or late, or worst case in a mall or on a treadmill if you have access. Go walk somewhere different. Even if you have to bus, bike or drive, maybe a change of scenery will help inspire and pique your interest.
Accountability: Find a buddy, Meet Up, borrow a neighbor’s dog, get an app, put it on your calendar every day, three times a week or whenever. What other ideas for making sure you do it do you have?
Psychology: When you don’t feel like walking, what’s that really about? Can you list all your excuses and really examine them? What are your own reasons for walking? If you’re sick or injured, maybe you shouldn’t go. But if not, ask yourself can you think about your resistance to walking — while you’re walking? Because I’ve made it a daily habit, I feel like something’s off when I don’t do it. If I don’t think about it and just do it, I feel better about myself.
Reward: Do something nice for yourself after a walk. Have a nice smoothie, watch a TV show, or take a nap.
Music: If you’re not already listening to music when you walk, consider doing that. Pick a radio station or Pandora etc. station that motivates you. Or maybe you’re a podcast or news person. Go with that.
Scheduling: If you can, try to do it at the same general time each day. Establishing routine makes it more likely you’ll stick with it.
Shoes: Is it time for a new pair?
Rest: Take a break. If you are really burned out, stop. Go swimming, or take a Zumba class. The goal is movement, not a blind slavish adherence to one activity. In a few days, go walk again, see how you feel.
Walking is a lifelong activity that humans need to do as long as possible, especially if you have a sedentary job and are overweight. I’m doing it, and you can too!
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