The past couple of months have been an interesting season in regards to the pace I’m living. As an exercise scientist and a division one athlete, I’ve been raised and educated on the importance of being active. I thrive on the feeling of completing an early morning workout, taking an after work spin class, or conquering a weekend warrior-length hike. But due to some recent energy insufficiencies and health issues, these types of activities have been out of the question.

Therefore, I have been learning to embrace the art of going on a walk.

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It sounds so silly that this is such a big deal, but honestly, when my normal exercise includes an increased heart rate and a well-earned sweat, a walk just doesn’t compare. I’m not sure about you, but for me walks (before now) had only been reserved for vacations, afternoon conversations, or after dinner dates. Moreover, in our fast-paced culture, who has time to go for a daily leisure walk? We are moving so quickly through life — from coffee dates to business meetings and intermittent dinner plans — that our exercise time must be intentionally and efficiently squeezed in, keeping a pace that is not conducive to leisure or restful enjoyment.

At the beginning of my “walking season” I was completely defiant against the idea. How do I find the time to go on a walk when I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything? Yet, as time has progressed and I am becoming a more seasoned walker, my walks have grown to become a treasured component of my day.

Not quite sold yet?

Here are some suggestions to help you overcome the mental blocks keeping you from taking walks:

You really don’t have to accomplish anything.
When going on a walk you are first and foremost moving your body, and because you’re moving your body (regardless of the manner in which you do) you are still benefiting your health and wellness in one capacity or another. Forget about how you are measuring that accomplishment and instead feel proud that you made the choice to benefit yourself. Baby steps!

Practice being present.
When going on a walk, be on that walk. When slowing down your life’s pace, it’s easy to allow the To Do List waiting for you at home or the plans you have for the next day to bombard your mind. A walk is the perfect environment to practice being present, because you are able to open your mind without thinking. You will get from point A to point B and nothing is going to change that, so just enjoy the journey.

A walk is the perfect environment to practice being present, because you are able to open your mind without thinking.

Invite a friend.
Unlike going on a run or taking some sort of exercise class, a walk has zero negative connotations that would detour someone from joining you and is the perfect invitation for a friend. And guess what? You can actually benefit your body while engaged in conversation without being interrupted by heavy breathing, the sweaty guy in front of you or loud, bumping music.

Take the time to smell the roses.
My roommates now know that if I go out on a walk or if they are to go on a walk with me, it is more likely than not that I will return with some sort of flower in my hair. While you are practicing being present, take the time to enjoy your surroundings and find pretty things. It doesn’t have to mean picking your favorite flower, but maybe it does mean walking through your favorite trail or detouring for the closest body of water.

So, while I would never wish upon anyone the limitations of physical activity, I do recommend the addition of a weekly or daily walk into everyone’s life. Slow down to take time, invite a friend and enjoy moving your body in the present.

Are you a walker? What do you love about it?

Image via Chelsie Autumn Photography

5 comments

  1. I love going on walks. My husband and I go on nightly, after-dinner walks, and it’s actually when we have the best conversations. There’s nothing to distract us from being present with just each other; no tv, computer, or smartphone.

  2. Oh, yes! I very much do agree.
    Walking helps clear and refocus your mind. Giving myself the time to take in the beauty around me on a walk definitely makes me a happier individual!

  3. I love walking home after work rather than racing home in my car. It really allows me to leave my work-worries in the office and relax more when I get home.

  4. I walk every morning before work – swapping the race to the gym to cram in a workout for a brisk stroll around my tree-laden neighbourhood.

    While I will probably go back to morning gym-sessions at some point, at this time of year I’m finding that walking and taking time to centre my thoughts and emotions on what’s important before I head to the office is so beneficial. I am able to appreciate the beauty and peace of sunrise and combat any negative thinking patterns or anxiety before they can poison my day. The best!

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