The Wonders of Walking

Body, Mind, Spirit and Soul

I love a great walk. I exercise at home in a small gym, do Pilates and go to the gym down the street but for me, nothing beats a great walk. And just to clarify, for me, great walks do not happen on a treadmill, they happen outdoors – where walking was invented.

Body

The physical health benefits of walking are well known. Walking helps maintain a healthy weight and can prevent various chronic conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Walking strengthens your muscles and bones and improves and maintains balance and coordination. Walking is easy, no-membership needed and, for many people, the only equipment required is a good pair of shoes.

Mind

Walking also works wonders on the mind. It is well known that walking is a wonderful way to alleviate depression and anxiety and improve your mood – pretty much immediately. It also increases creativity, self-confidence and problem solving skills.

The Wonders of Walking
A favorite mural on The Beltline

Spirit

I love all these things about walking, but I really love that it offers me a whole bunch of different “me time” activities. I used to be a runner – I trained for a marathon in my 40’s and enjoyed it very much – but it didn’t really feel like it fit me all that well. It always felt like the goal was to finish the run rather than enjoy the process. When I started walking, I really grew to enjoy the journey. I’m not always wishing it was over as I enjoy it and I enjoy the things I do while I’m on a walk.

I walk with people. When I am visiting with family in Connecticut or New York, we walk. We walk in the woods or on the road. We walk and talk or just walk and wonder. I walk with Allan. He’s my person and he’s a runner. When I first suggested walking many years ago, he said he really couldn’t just walk. He didn’t know how. Well, miraculously, he learned. We walk with our dog, Birdie, and we walk and talk. He doesn’t love my long walks so he’ll often just do half of the walk and head home with our dog. That’s the best of all worlds for me as I get my Allan and Birdie time but I also get to do my “me” walk time.

I use my walk time for a bunch of different things. I call people. I have a wonderful pair of earbuds that have a built in microphone. I don’t generally “love” things but I love my earbuds. They fit comfortably in my ear and they never fall out. They make walking and talking a breeze — unless it is breezy and then all bets are off as apparently the wind can get pretty loud on the other end of the phone. I can use the time to catch up with family and friends. I call my mom to catch up and, if it’s the morning, she’ll always say “are you on your walk”? This makes me happy when I am, indeed, on my walk. When I’m not, because I’m too busy and need to be doing something else, it gives me a little pang of regret — wishing that I was on my walk.

When you are walking, you can talk for as long or as short a time as you like. It’s easy to say “let me let you go, I’m on my walk” or chat for hours depending on how you feel. This also works very well when it’s windy. It’s perfect.

I also use the time to make individual work calls or participate in conference calls. There was a time when I was hesitant to let “work” people know I was walking while I was on a call – I was concerned it wouldn’t be deemed “professional”. I got over that very quickly. For me, walking and talking is a much more focused way to listen and solve problems – instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.

My favorite thing to do, however, is listen and learn. I listen to amazing podcasts and books. I rarely listen to music while walking – I can do that at home – I use the time to fill my mind with new things. I “read” a lot. I keep up on politics, science and business innovations with my podcasts With my books, I make sure to keep a healthy mix of fiction and non-fiction. If I’m “reading” a book I’m not enamored with, I’ll listen to it at home while I’m doing mindless chores – just to get through it. If I have a book I love – which is the majority, I will only listen while I walk. It’s a perfect and very special combination for me. I have a 10 mile route – through neighborhoods and parks and on our wonderful Atlanta Beltline which is bursting with art and people and energy. I will often walk by a certain tree or house or mural and have a flash of a special memory from a scene in a book that I was listening to when I passed that place before. How great is that?

Soul

A walking spa

A great walk is nourishment for the soul with benefits that far exceed the physical. For me, it’s not about filling the time but using the time to feed my soul.