Do you ever chuckle to yourself as you see those dedicated running ‘experts’ trot past your house about the same time every day? You know; the ones that wear spandex, t-shirts, a baseball cap (sometimes with ponytails), headphones, and carry their water bottle on their hip. Am I the only one who thinks they look exhausted and stressed, and all for the sake of their weight, muscle tone, and cardiovascular system? Their eyes are usually so glazed over they miss all the excitement and beauty around them.
Then there are those who walk with gusto. They take long, quick strides; both arms reaching forward and back alternately with purpose. They don’t smile. Instead, they focus straight ahead without wavering, like their life depends on reaching their goal.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I give credit to those who take the initiative to exercise to expel stress and stay fit and healthy. However, this is not my idea of a perfect walk. Nor is this the type of walk I’d be interested in taking.Certainly the health benefits of exercising are indisputable. Taking regular walks profits better and deeper breathing, improves muscle tone, regulates digestion, and promotes endorphins which help attitude. Certainly the sunlight encourages better skin tone because of Vitamin D, and even the immune system is affected. There is no doubt that overall health is enhanced with walking.There are many types of walking, just as there are various types of people who walk. When we were growing up, we walked most everywhere. It wasn’t unusual for us to walk a mile or more to school, to sporting events, downtown, and to the library. Getting a ride wasn’t expected; it was a privilege.
Then too, after school when we got home, we played basketball, baseball, tennis, went swimming or bike riding, hiking, and kept active outside. Do you remember having to be back in the house before the street lights came on? We didn’t spend hours in front of the TV, the computer, or playing video games. Nor did we spend hours upon hours on the telephone, which incidentally was at home when we were outside.
We even walked for the purpose of enjoying the walk. We’d leisurely walk to the park with a friend and enjoy participating in the activity once there. We’d walk to go shopping, knowing whatever we bought would have to be carried back home during another walk. We walked to school; which was normally the quickest walk of the day so we wouldn’t get detention for being late, and we carried books both to and from school.
Then when we did walk, we stopped to listen to the birds, watch the squirrels, admire a particular flower, or enjoy the fresh snowfall. Some of our best counseling sessions were just sharing with our friends as we took a walk.
We’d discuss a subject in school, last night’s football game, our driver’s education class, the upcoming dance, or the new kid in school. Many a dating relationship began with a walk.
So, the next time you’re looking around for something to do, or you need to take a break from the stressfulness of the day, take a walk to clear your head and appreciate your surroundings. You might even take your spouse or a friend along for a reconnecting conversation.
Contributed by Deb Lange