“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
Henry David Thoreau nails the essence on the power of early morning walks to set a positive tone for the entire day. The one caveat however, is that as invigorating as an early morning walk can be, a walk any time of day will also reap tremendous benefits.
I’ve always loved the outdoors and walking has always been my preferred method of exercise (and therapy). While I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like with fitness in general, walking is the one activity that I never fully gave up.
Some of the happiest times in my life were spent outdoors. Walking has been my constant companion; sometimes we drifted apart for weeks or months at a time (the consistency thing) but I always came back sooner or later.
These are just some of the benefits I have reaped from walking:
I feel empowered to tackle life
I love knowing I did something good for my body
It clears and detoxes my mind
The sunshine and fresh air are so healing
I do some of my best thinking (and praying) when I’m walking
It fosters a healthy respect for my body
It stimulates circulation and breathing
I feel connected to the world around me
I sleep better
It fuels creativity and sharpens focus
It helps release negative emotions
Best of all….
When I’m consistent, I experience these benefits to the –nth power. The opposite is also true; when I slack off, I feel disconnected, sluggish, and generally out of sync.
God gave us everything we need to thrive and most of them are free. He gave us physical activity as a means of keeping our bodies and minds healthy.
If you’ve never given walking a try, I challenge you to prove it to yourself. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start by picking a spot that is familiar and comfortable to you; walk around the block, stroll through a local park, or walk around at the mall.
Experiment with times of day. Early morning helps energize you for the day ahead; evening helps you clear your mind and relax your body for a good night’s rest. Find what works best for you.
Walk in public areas that are safe and well-lit and visible. Let someone know where you are and how long you’ll be.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. They don’t have to be expensive athletic shoes, just comfortable and sturdy.
Water bottle. Self-explanatory.
Walk, talk to God, breathe in fresh air, exhale stress and negativity, and feel grateful that you are blessed with full use of your body.
If walking outdoors isn’t possible because of weather or other factors, start on a treadmill.
Repeat for at least 10/20/30 minutes a day, four times per week, whatever your fitness level and health concerns may allow for.
Give yourself grace and room to learn. Walk at a comfortable pace at first; you’re not race walking. If 10 minutes is all you can do, don’t hurt yourself trying to do more, for now. What matters is that you’re doing it. You’re already leaps and bounds ahead of someone who isn’t even trying.
Making walking a consistent part of your life doesn’t solve all your problems, but it can equip you with the right state of mind and boost your physical health to help you in processing life’s challenges in healthy and positive ways.
Oh, and you’ll burn a few calories too!