“Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.”
Walking has always been a way folks get outside, move their bodies, stay healthy, walk their dogs, get to work or social events, and take young kids on a stroll. I love taking walks. My family will often visit one of the many lakes in Minnesota, hit up a state park, or simply make it down to the stretch of the Mississippi that is near our home.
Yesterday, however, I felt how my nervous system was shot. My anxiety was vibrating higher and I was tired. A frustrating combination. I had a very long day and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and stay there for the rest of the night. But I had responsibilities, and some urgent matters that needed my attention. I also knew I had some big emotions and challenges to sort through. With a big sigh, I laced up my winter boots, wrapped a scarf around me, pulled down my hat and headed outside. Personally, I knew the movement would rattle my thoughts to allow me to see them and process them. Scientifically, I knew it would boost my energy. Talking walks are magic.
There are so many reasons to walk. Covid gave me the chance to rediscover the gift of taking a walk no further than my own neighborhood for no particular reason at all. When I walk outside my own door and take laps around the blocks closest to my home, I become a part of the fabric of my community. Walking gives me the opportunity to interact with my neighbors. To say hello and check in on them. Walking also allows for relationship building.
Living in the north has been enough of an excuse for me to not venture out when the weather is arctic cold. I am not what folks would call Minnesota tough when we live in the negative temps for weeks on end. However, during Covid being outside with folks seems like the only way to see one another. Many of my neighbors are essential workers, and some are counselors which takes a heavy emotional toll. These early morning winter walks are often the only real interaction we have with another human all week. The impact of physically being in someone else’s space and breathing in the fresh air, even if it is only through a mask, can literally be life-giving.
When my husband worked from home for two years we would often take a lunch break stroll. It gave us the chance to hold hands and meander through the streets talking about our day. At the time we were also considering moving or renovating our home, so we gained inspiration of what we were wanting by looking at all the homes we passed. Those lunchtime walks were our time to dream together.
There was a season where I was often able to take mine and Katrina’s kids to a new state or county park. We were passing along to the younger generation the magic of a walk under the canopy of trees, to discover a waterfall or a hidden river. We found so many fun places within an hour of our home to get out of the city and reconnect with nature for a good walk.
The daily or even weekly walk brought life back into our tired schedules. For all the reasons we have to take walks, I have discovered my love of heading right outside my door to regain a sense of place and connection to people who live closest to me. Or taking the time to hit up a beautiful park and gain that re-connection to the earth.
Need other reasons to walk? Here are more!
It reduces the risk of developing certain cancers.
It eases joint pain.
It boosts immune function.
It helps release feel good endorphins.