April 6 is National Walking Day—of course, we don’t need to wait until then to begin walking—and so in honor of this monumental occasion, I just finished walking the 3-mile loop of the Deschutes River trail. As I did yesterday. And will do for part of Friday date night. And am scheduled to do Saturday morning with a friend.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Why do I walk the miles in any given week? I’m going to blame it on Hubby’s cancer diagnosis. He had read that pounding the pavement was good for combating osteoporosis, caused by his cancer treatment. We started walking in town, and then discovered the trails in the nearby Cascade Mountains.
And then our addiction extended to the Colorado Rockies and the Tetons. And last fall, I did a walking tour through several regions in Switzerland. I blame cancer.
Here’s what you should know about National Walking Day and walking in general (warning — this list may contain disparaging comments about running):
1. Walking is fun. The phrase Fun Run is oxymoronic. For fear of alienating any of my four marathon- and half-marathon-running kids, I’m going to say it anyway: Running just isn’t fun. What’s fun about pain and injuries? But walking … now that’s a different story. There is nothing not fun about walking.
2. Walking is cheap. Walking costs next to nothing, although I heartily recommend getting a good pair of walking or trekking shoes (yes, there is a difference between cute little plaid Airwalk tennis shoes and kind-to-your-feet trekking shoes). But the actual *finding a path/sidewalk/trail and placing one foot in front of the other* — this costs nothing.
3. Walking is friend-making. I started out as trail sweep with the Walking 4 Wellness group as part of my job as Survivorship Coordinator at the cancer center. Besides trail sweep, I think I was also supposed to generally try to keep them from any embarrassing public behavior. (Sadly, I failed on that front.) After Hubby died and I took an early retirement, these people made me a lifetime member. Whether I wanted membership or not. Find a walking crew that you can walk and skip and climb fences and throw leaves with. A group you can meet afterward for coffee with. (The camaraderie-and-coffee part is critical to the overall health benefits of walking.)
Walking 4 Wellness crew
4. Walking is therapeutic. I don’t how many times Hubby and I laced up our shoes—even in those last months of his life when he didn’t feel like getting out into the wilderness—and went walking just to be outdoors, together, and maybe forget about cancer for that short while. Therapeutic and restorative. For what’s not restorative about walking in the shade of impossibly tall trees along a river rushing over large boulders?
5. Walking shouldn’t be one day a year. National Walking Day should be as close to 365 days a year as possible. Walking is probably one of the most convenient physical activities in terms of equipment needed. Add to that the fact you can walk almost anywhere — in your neighborhood, on a park path, in a national forest, along railroad tracks. (Did you know that New York City took an old elevated freight rail line and converted it into one long walking path with indigenous plantings and park benches. And they call it the Highline, which Daughter Summer and I have walked.) You can even walk in a mall on snowy, rainy days — although to walk in snow is pretty magical.
Deschutes River – January 2016 (photo credit: Marlys Johnson)
If you can add more physical activity to your lifestyle—and preferably outdoors, and preferably near a body of water—then you will be that much further on your way to good health, body, soul and spirit.
I’m addicted to getting outdoors for my adrenaline fix via regular physical activity. Choose your own addiction. As for me—walking, hiking, snow-shoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, skiing, canoeing, kayaking—any of these make me happy.
How about you? How have you benefitted from walking or other outdoor physical activity? Do you need to get outdoors more?
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