My daily walking habit began on January 1, 2018, and I haven’t looked back since. I may have missed one day but I often do more than the allotted 30 minutes. I make sure I hit 1.5 miles, and some days it’s 2.0 or more miles, or even two walks. I don’t write about it much because it’s not that remarkable, but to me it’s a good habit for life that I wish I’d established many years ago. It’s not easy when you’re busy, sick, tired, injured, it’s cold, windy and wet outside. Somehow, I have found the discipline. And what the rewards are subtle, they are worth considering starting your own walking practice if you don’t have one.
As most people know, the benefits of walking are plentiful: plenty of fresh air and aerobic exercise; increased bone density; being out in nature; meeting neighbors; and seeing the sights are just a few. Yesterday, I met a second cat who was so aggressively friendly he or she came trotting out to the curb to meet me. That’s a nice but rare surprise, although tonight I said hi to a similarly affectionate grey cat. His name is Felix, and his owner Rachel came out to go somewhere and introduced herself.
While walking is not hard for many people, it can be difficult for young and old alike, especially if they’re not used to it. (DISCLAIMER: You know of course to get the okey-dokey from your doctor before starting a new exercise.) I’ve certainly had my health issues that have made it very challenging some days. There’s been knee, ankle, foot or hip pain which make it super hard to walk (and bike sometimes to a lesser extent). There are days when I just do not feel like doing it. But somehow, I do it. There’s always an excuse: I need new shoes, there’s inclement weather, I’m snookered after a bike ride or I’m just out of time. You have to factor that all in.
As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing well. And if you’re committed and make it a goal (I recommend regular, not daily), it can be done. Of course you’ll have to find that time in your schedule, and that’s certainly harder for the family types. But that time spent scrolling on your phone or computer, watching a crummy show on television, or doing nothing are all great times to go for a walk. If I can do it, (almost) anyone can! (If you’re disabled, it’s medically contraindicated, or something else, please disregard this.)
For me, the chance to relax and work out the kinks accumulated in my bicycling muscles is a key benefit. Although I have been trying to walk earlier in the day, a bike friend recommended I do so after. It’s a great cool-down from cycling, too. Ideally I’d walk first thing in the morning, and I prefer to do yoga every day for six years after biking. You have to judge for yourself what’s best for your body, and do what fits for your schedule.
Of course when it’s done mindfully — paying attention to your breath and movement (as opposed to your stupid phone), you can make walking into a moving meditation. This will bring even more added benefits. I find that when I do pay attention, the focus required for walking is similar to biking . Whichever type, speed, distance etc. of walking that you choose, it will take time and effort. Be sure to talk to your doctor first. If you can do it, you’ll find the rewards are more than worth it.
In these times when social media can be divisive and a tool for separation, and actually has been to shown to create more isolation, get out there take a hike already!