Even in the dead of winter it feels good to stretch my legs.
That’s because we’re meant to walk. As humans, walking upright is what makes us special. It’s part of what defines us. Most of the time it is really useful too.
I confess, a big part of the reason I walk often is because my two dogs, Spot and Ranger, need exercise. Long walks contribute to my own health as much as theirs. They get to smell things. I get to work my legs. We all benefit from burning off energy walking.
But there is more than just that. Walking can be as good for you as running as, provided you do it for longer than you would run for because obviously you don’t burn as many calories walking as you do running.
Most people hate to run, it’s tiresome, hard to do, really hard to get motivated for. Yeah it’s better for you than just walking, but sometimes there is an added benefit to going slowly.
Personally, I don’t run because up here in Minnesota, its cold enough for eight months out of the year that the running will trigger my asthma. Plus I have wide feet, which although great for swimming in the summer, really lack usefulness when I need to pound pavement.
But I don’t run into the same obstacles on a long walk. A long walk also allows me to think about what’s going on in my life. It allows me to clear my head, exercise my dogs, and keep my heart healthy. Thats a triple win, all from something that your physical anatomy evolved to do. It is also an investment into the future because the more I walk now, the more I am going to be able to walk as I age.
Use it or Lose it, right?
Though I have not yet tried it, there is a practice of walking meditation. Personally I think meditation is great, and I am excited to try this out during the next summer season. I can heavily vouch for the benefits of a mindfulness practice so I think that walking meditation might be a good addition to anyone’s daily practice.
Plus, regardless of whether or not you can meditate while walking, the action of exercising is going to be good for your brain. And if you walk in nature, there are added benefits to being outside…because, duh, you’re meant to be there
Walks are also a way for me to reconnect with a person. Instead of sitting around the table talking about what we are up to. We can walk through our old neighborhood and think about all the fun we had tearing up the streets on our bikes and sledding down the hills in other people’s yards.
I cannot overstate the value of talking and walking. It feels so natural to do. You’ll cover all sorts of topics that you otherwise wouldn’t because you are out in the world. You will feel really good about doing the walk because you’re combining social interaction with exercise(endorphins galore).
I would recommend that you go out immediately no matter the weather, except for dangerous storms, and bring another person with you to talk about what you both see. Your different perspectives on events and objects is just another way to learn more about the world. Sometimes it’s good to walk alone, but more often it’s good to walk with someone else. Bonus points if you bring along the dogs.