I dislike running. I’ve tried for years to fall in love with it, but it just won’t happen for me. And as I’ve gotten older, the toll it’s taken on my body has been taxing.
Pathetic, really. I’m only 35.
I love the outdoors. The fresh air. The quietness of nature and seeing the branches bend with the breeze. The birds chirping from the trees above. You know, any noise is peaceful next to children yelling at me for another godforsaken snack.
Being outdoors grounds me.
I used to feel obligated to run when I did an outdoor workout. But when the world turned upside down last year, I quickly discovered the joy and benefits of taking an outdoor WALK.
Like many, being stuck at home was mentally and physically isolating. I love my family, but the desire to get away and look at new scenery was very real for me. With nowhere to go, the options were limited.
I can remember how it started:: I put on my head phones on, turned on a podcast, and I was out the door.
Pretty simple, really.
As soon as my feet hit the pavement I felt a sense of freedom. For those 30-45 minutes I got to be somewhere else. I would connect with the beautiful and compassionate words of Brene Brown or belt out all of the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Folklore album. Sometimes I would forgo the headphones and listen to the world around me while drifting off into thought.
There was a sense of community and comradery from my fellow neighbors as I walked past them on the sidewalk. A simple smile, head nod, or wave from a friendly neighbor was all it took for me to feel seen. A small gesture to each other that carried so much weight. We all were out there escaping something.
And then there was this unspoken new rule that I had to learn as I walked past strangers-don’t get too close to anyone and if you’re on the same sidewalk walking towards another person, one person moved off the path until we passed each other.
But regardless of the new terms, I walked through my neighborhood with a purpose. Depending on the day, the mood I was in, or what I was listening to; walking had become a time for me to reflect. It brought me joy. And I needed it.
I gained so much this past year from getting my extra steps in, but it was more than just escapism. I realized that there was some great health benefits from walking, too.
Benefits to Taking a Walk
- Cardiovascular Activity. Walking is a great substitution for running and is still a great cardiovascular activity. It’s an opportunity to get your heartrate up. Something that’s important to do daily.
- Strength Training. You are building strength in your body while walking. Something I had not even considered. You don’t always have to put a ton of stress on your body to build strength.
- Vitamin D. If you’re anything like me, than just getting outside and soaking in the vitamin D from the sun can totally change your mood and mindset for the day.
- Immune System. Going for a 30 minute walk helps boost your immune system. And in the era of COVID, I think most of us are trying to take better care of our health.
- Mental health . I always come home happier and refreshed from when I left my house. I never have regretted going on a walk.
I’m sure we’ve all collected some new habits this past year. Some healthy, some maybe not so healthy. I’m glad that I’ve picked up this healthy habit for myself. I hope it encourages you to start taking more outdoor walks and that it brings you as much joy as it has me.