Walks are not only GREAT for Exercise but also for Healing
Posted Aug 26 2008 4:16pm
Walking is by far my favorite exercise as well as my favorite way to clear my mind. I grew up in New York City so I was used to walking EVERYWHERE. Being outside and feeling the sun on your face somehow makes things seem OK. Walking alone, with a friend or music and headphones can change your mood entirely.
I live in upstate NY now and am fortunate enough to see mountains out my window and have this park pictured 3 blocks away from my home. I am at this park 2-3 times a week no matter what the weather is. I take my kids in the summer time to the playgrounds and in the winter they can sled there. I have taken walks and cross country skied there no matter WHAT the weather. My husband and I have had our "date night" there sitting by the dock and talking. No matter how I make it to this park, what the weather is or if I am with someone or alone -- I always come back refreshed.
If I am walking alone I do my gratitude first for being able to get out and walk outside and for the beauty around me and then let whatever it is come to my mind. If it is a problem I try and figure out possible solutions to the problem. If it is something good I acknowledge the good and feel grateful for it. I let my mind wander but do take notice of the flowers, mountains, animals, and pure beauty that only nature can hold. I've seen the moon rise over the mountains, I have seen deer, rabbits, groundhogs and tons of birds and every time I am thankful.
If I walk with a friend, friends or my husband at the park I am so happy to be out and talk and listen non-stop. The interaction along with the nature feels healing every time. My friend Angela is the person I walk with the most and we always stop and say JUST how beautiful it is. We always have a hug and a "thank you" because we know just how lucky we are to walk in such a beautiful place and to have each other's friendship. If one of us is having a bad day or just needs to talk we'll shoot each other a quick email saying "walk later?" or give a call and we know we will return later healed. In the winter I feel it is MOST important to get out and walk. You can always put on layers and make it a quick one. The air and the sun (or the moon) make you feel alive and can be a very quick cure for the "winter blues". Yes, it can be a pain and take a while to put on the layers of clothes and bundle but the effort is more than worth the result of how you'll feel when you come back.
Walking with music can also be very therapeutic. With MP3 players you can walk around with your whole music collection. You can pick certain songs to cause emotions or just set it to random and surprise yourself with what comes up. Walking with music playing has a meditative effect on me. Feeling the music and being in nature is so calming and beautiful. I usually make sure to play upbeat music for the more strenuous parts of the walk and I don't even realize I am exercising.
When I was ill I still went for walks. No, not as far but just getting out always made me feel more alive then sitting in and not moving. It doesn't have to be an hour and a half walk to make you feel better. Even 5 minutes can do the trick. Fresh air and a change of scenery are healthy and vital to healing.
Walks in nature are so beautiful but I did grow up walking in New York City and walks had the same effect there. The people and store watching, the parks, the energy of the city -- all of it made the action of walking seem non-existent. It doesn't matter where you are -- there are always places to walk and find beauty.
If you are looking to walk for weight loss, About.com offers a great article on how to know how many calories you are burning while walking. Walking improves your health and is about the easiest exercise program you can start since all you need is a good pair or shoes or sneakers. You can take your time, start off with small walks and make them longer as your endurance grows. Call a friend and try to set up a weekly meeting for a walk that way it is on the calendar and it will make you less likely to "skip it". There are tons of ways to take walks and lots of places to explore. Getting out and doing it is key and you will feel renewed, refreshed and healed not only physically but emotionally as well.