As I get older, I also get wiser.
And one of the wisest things I have ever done is to start walking.
My mother told me that I actually first walked at six months. At nine months I was running rings around my four older brothers. Well, probably not, but you get the picture.
Over the years, I walked less and less, and when I was approaching forty I drove pretty well everywhere.
Then an amazing thing happened. Our daughters’ school was sponsoring a “fun run”, where people who signed up walked around our neighbourhood in routes set out by the school. One route was one mile. Up Isbister Street and down Stradford. One mile. One!
My husband and I and our four girls signed up and started to walk along with scores of other families. And guess what? It was HARD!
Okay, first of all, I didn’t own running shoes and did the walk in strapped sandals. Second, it just seemed so long!
I bought sneakers and we started walking every evening. It felt amazing. Liberating.
Walking has so many benefits.
- It gives you time to think.
- It makes you feel young.
- It improves your mental outlook.
- It improves your circulation.
- It improves your appreciation of nature – you notice flowers, signs of spring, autumn leaf changes.
- You meet and greet neighbours.
- You find out what the kids in the area are up to.
- It helps with weight loss and flexibility.
If walk to the store to buy milk. you get the added benefit of weight-bearing exercise which is good for your bones.
If you walk to your favourite coffee shop or fast food restaurant you actually “use your calories before you consume them”.
I am now seventy years old and I walk (or cycle) everywhere. I do 90% of my errands on foot.
In 1997, Bill Bryson wrote a book about walking the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. Apparently it was or is going to be made into a movie, starring Robert Redford. I just finished reading the book and I highly recommend it. Funny and touching and also inspiring.
But you don’t have to make a commitment to walk 2,000 miles. Just do more than you did yesterday and count the benefits. You won’t be sorry.
A few things can help:
- A companion. Even Bill Bryson didn’t walk alone.
- A tracker. A pedometer or even your iPhone can count your steps for you. Work up to 10,000 steps a day.
- A Fitbit. You wear it on your wrist and in addition to step counting, it calculates heart rate and calories burned.
I notice that when I walk either outside or inside malls in winter (I live in Canada), I usually pass people much younger than I am. It is important to walk quickly to enjoy all of the benefits of walking.
Today I read an article in our local newspaper written by Brynna Leslie called, “Want to live longer? Pick up the pace.” The article quotes research that explains how walking quickly is good for you.
If you can find a copy of this article, read it.
Then go for a walk!
See you on the trail! – Maureen