The Simple Joy of Going for a Walk

Here’s a value I’d like to instil in the kids: the simple but unfailing joy of going for a walk screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-38-18-pmoutside.

It seems overly simplistic, overly optimistic, easy to brush away as pointless. I know this because unless I’ve gone for a walk recently, I forget just how important it is. But I’m glad that I do know, that my parents valued (and still value) “going for a walk” as a worthwhile pastime and that they passed that value down to me.

I know people who hate to walk. I’m not sure why. (Of course with the exception of ability, assuming that walking is not painful, difficult or impossible for you.) If you are a healthy person with a way of walking comfortably and no health limitations (including mental health) to getting outside and going for a walk, I have to chalk up the dislike of walking to a lack of positive experience. Yes, walking is more work than taking the car. You don’t really seem to accomplish anything, when given a superficial glance. You cover ground, but unless you’re going on an errand, what for? It’s not even much of a workout by most people’s standards.

Maybe if we called it “urban hiking” (or, in the country, just hiking), it would have more legitimacy. I think at the end of the day walking is written off as … too pedestrian (forgive me). We have to walk to get around, at least some of the time, and any of us who are able to walk do so every day. Therefore, it can’t be special.

Like eating.

img_7307I disagree (about both eating and walking, but the issue of eating as a spiritual experience is a different post altogether).

Walking is rewarding for so many reasons, and you don’t need to do it regularly, go anywhere special, or own special shoes for it to be so. It offers that much sought after element of INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

I rarely come back from a walk and say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t bothered. What a waste of time.” No, basically every time I return from a walk, I’m saying (or thinking), “Wow, I’m really glad I went. I feel so much better now. I didn’t really want to go but that was fantastic.”

Why? Going for a walk, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour or more, offers an unpredictable mix of some or all the following:

  • fresh air – which probably contains more oxygen than the air in your home, and if it’s chilly out, wakes you up.
  • conversation – a walk, like a drive, is a great time to talk to your kids, partner or friends. Even if you’re walking alone, you might find that you run into a neighbour and start chatting. Walking builds community.
  • discovery – finding new amazing things in your neighbourhood
  • exercise – you might even be inspired to work out more!
  • energy
  • inspiration – it’s amazing how getting outside and being active can clear your mind. If there is a problem or project you’re stuck on, a walk can get the gears moving smoothly and bring ideas, solutions and inspiration.
  • bonding – maybe a friend or family member will want to join you!

I’d be well-served taking my own advice – I haven’t been going on many walks lately. What could we all be doing tomorrow to feel just a bit better in general? Going for a walk!

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