The Power of Walking: 6 ideas to improve your happiness & health
I come from a long line of walkers. Even well into her 80’s my grandmother walked to the grocery store to purchase her fruit and bread. I remember one summer where grandma, mom, and I took an epic walk around the picturesque town of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. We walked so long that my hands swelled from the blood pooling in them from so much hanging at my sides. When I showed my ancestral ladies my hands, they just shrugged it off and said it happens to them all the time, and told me to squeeze my hands and lift them above my heart to reverse the puffiness!
Walking is what we humans were designed to do, we are born to take those first sweet steps of freedom. Indeed, we are celebrated, hugged, documented, and bragged about as we take those first steps! By taking a walk, you honor the connection to this primal and elemental part of your human nature, and remind all the cells of your body that they were designed to move. Walking clears the cobwebs of a foggy mind, gives a structured space to process life situations, allows for time to notice beauty and changes in the world around us, and can allow for wonderful chats between friends and loved ones. Here are some random musings that I hope inspire you to lace up and enjoy your bipedal nature!
- Some of our greatest thinkers love walking. It’s reputed that Queen Elizabeth takes walks as meetings with her Prime Minister and other important folks. The editors of Yankee magazine typically walk as their lunch break, it’s great creative fodder!
- Julia Cameron wrote one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way. In this book a weekly solo walk is touted as a vital practice to the creative person.
- Walking in nature, (yes, your neighborhood counts!) is really awesome for our health. The journal Medicine in Science and Sports & Exercise tracked folks on an outdoor track. They moved faster, perceived less exertion, and had more positive emotions than the indoor treadmill folks!
- If you have a dog, I’m preaching to the choir, but there is no better companion and inspiration than a dog for the value of a daily walk. They remind us that movement is vital if we wanna feel calm and happy, and they remind us to take in our surroundings rather than continue on auto pilot.
- If you’ve got a thorny issue buggin’ you, try this: think about your issue, and ask a concrete question. Then, take a walk of predetermined length. During your walk, notice any cues from Mother Nature; do you keep seeing the same bird, cloud pattern, mammal, scent from flowers? Pay close attention and you will see that there are answers all around you. When you return from your walk, check out the book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, for the messages in the things you noticed. The universe does support your dreams, you just have to ask, be open, and notice the wonders around you!
- Gotta sticky wicket with a friend or loved one? A charged conversation that you are dreading? Try airing out your discussion on a walk. Sometimes taking a conflict out into a walk is the best thing for all involved. It gets you both into neutral territory, and provides a literal forward motion to the issue, rather than head-to-head confrontation. It’s easier to “agree to disagree” and find mutual solutions when we give our bodies and minds a positive movement forward!