Walking has survived the test of time for helping to achieve and maintain good health. While not exactly a miracle cure, people of all ages have found that putting one foot in front of another for an extended period of time causes improvements in health, physical and mental well-being and an enhanced outlook on life. Not everyone will be immediately convinced, but walking is worth trying. Perhaps because it doesn’t require official attire or shoes, or pricey memberships, and it’s done with or without companions, it’s sometimes diminished in importance. Basically determination and a sense of purpose and willingness to work towards accomplishing goals are all that’s needed.
The simplicity of walking should never be underrated just because it isn’t complicated. The best way to determine if something is worth doing is test it by trying. While walking doesn’t “promise” incredible success stories like some workout programs, that doesn’t diminish its importance.
Walking benefits were introduced to me out of necessity for getting to school. No, it wasn’t five miles uphill both ways, but bus service wasn’t available, and we were a one-car family for many years, and my Dad’s job meant he was out of town regularly. That left little Sandra Kay with few options for getting to school. I don’t remember “training” to learn the route, but my parents were loving and conscientious people so I’m sure there was a proper orientation.
Perhaps I learned to enjoy solitude from walking alone until I got within a few blocks of school and met up with classmates. And it’s not to say I never got a ride. I did, but for the most part I walked. My parents encouraged me, explaining it was healthy and good for me. High school included car pools, but still frequent walking, and senior year some friends had cars and occasionally gave me a ride home.
Walking has become a part of my life which is not to say I’m always faithful about it. The most difficult part can be getting out the front door. My motives fluctuated for many years. During difficult times, it helped dispel sadness or made it easier to think through struggles. In spring and fall the beauty of the seasons inspired me.
Winter and summer are challenging, but allowed a tremendous feeling of bravado when I walked in frigid temperatures or stifling ones. During this COVID-19 pandemic and the tragedies and sadness of our country’s current racial tensions, a close friend and I have walked almost daily. We see others in our neighborhood walking also, and even if we don’t know everyone’s names, there’s a feeling of community among us that’s very therapeutic.
As one always struggling with weight issues, I make better food choices when I walk faithfully. If I just spent an hour walking in the heat, I’m not so likely to scarf down coveted sweets. Thanks to an electronic gift, I can track my steps and tracking those numbers helps challenge me on days I’d rather sit than walk.
If exercise is on your to-do list, buy comfortable shoes and socks, a water bottle, maybe a hat, and hit the pavement. The feeling of accomplishment experienced when you walk back in the house after walking will motivate you for each following day.