Last year, one of my college roommates told me that her parents started walking the neighborhood regularly and that they both ended up losing 10-20 lbs. Everyone’s body is different and will react differently to different amounts of exercise and other life changes, and who knows, maybe they were seriously dieting as well. However, I love walking anyway, so it doesn’t really matter to me exactly how much weight they lost. Walking offers so much more than just healthy exercise or weight loss. Sure, people exercise for the physical health benefits, but have you ever considered the other things you could gain by walking?
Last week when it finally decided to stop snowing in the Midwest, I convinced my husband to go on a walk with me. It was a hard deal to cut, though. I had to agree to go to a fish fry. I HATE fish with a passion. I HATE it. But I ate it, because I really wanted to go on a walk with him – partially because I want to lose a few pounds, partially because I was afraid to go alone, and partially because I wanted to spend my Friday evening with him. Mainly, I wanted to feel good about myself and get some endorphins released. However, what I got out of our walk was so much more. We talked about our days, our thoughts, the news, politics, our future, and even our feelings a little bit. (Like most men, he hates talking about feelings). Sure, we always talk about how our days were, watch and discuss the news, talk about our new house, and so on. But… this was different. Because we were stuck out there with each other, we connected. We didn’t just exchange information, we related to each other. We shared more than basic information about the week and the television. We really shared our thoughts. I really felt like we got to a deeper connection with each other than we would have if we had just stayed home and relaxed in front of the TV. In addition, we were both happy because we each got what we wanted, we had our endorphins released, and we felt like we accomplished something together.
A Clear Mind
I enjoyed our walk that evening so much that I was eager for another one the next day. Luckily, it was warm enough! So, when my phone said it was as warm as it was going to get, I laced up my new shoes, grabbed my headphones, and headed out. Now, I knew it would be relaxing… but WOW was I impressed! The freedom that I felt having nothing but my music and myself was so empowering. I didn’t think about work, I didn’t think about housework, I really didn’t even think much about my husband or my family. I just walked and enjoyed the music. I forgot about everything. I felt SO GREAT that I even jogged for a while! If you know me, that is REALLY saying something.
In fact, I felt so energized and freed by the fresh air, the warm weather, and my music, that I wanted to do more – I felt motivated. How doing more can make you energized instead of exhausted is beyond me, but it was real! Suddenly I had this fabulous surge of energy and ideas. When I got home, I bragged to Ben about how much I had walked in how much time and about all the things I wanted to accomplish. I cooked dinner in a jiffy, and I was ready to start the week. I felt so empowered by my walk that I wanted to keep up my strength and accomplishment.
An Empty To-Do List
“I’m too busy,” is the excuse so many people use for not having time to exercise. When I first realized how much I needed to start walking again, it was because I was gaining weight. I was able to maintain my weight all throughout college simply because I had to WALK everywhere. Sure, it was tiring and time consuming at times, but it was SO worth it. It kept me in shape, and it gave me time to gain the aforementioned qualities/values. So, this weekend, I decided to incorporate some of my old ways into my new life. We just so happened to need a few things from the store. Guess what is within walking distance of our home? Yep, that’s right: CVS. “So,” I thought, “Time to a) get my walk in and b) get the things we need from the store. Why drive when you can walk?” So, I got the things we needed AND I got my much sought after walk!
Again, why drive when you can walk? SAVE YOUR GAS, PEOPLE! Walk to places if and when you can. Now, if you live where I grew up, in rural-suburbia, where it takes a minimum of 15 minutes of driving at top speed to get ANYWHERE you want to go, this may not be an option. However, now that I have moved, walking is my thing! (Side note: If somewhere is truly too far to walk, you should consider biking! It has some similar advantages to walking and will also save you gas money – and they actually have lanes for bikes now! Who knew?!). While this probably won’t save you tons and tons of money, it will make you feel better about your spending habits and extend the gas that you do have for a few extra days or so. I don’t know anyone in this day and age who wants to waste gas on useless trips. It’s hard enough to pay for gas to get to work, right?!
Remember how I said it was like pulling teeth to get my husband to go for a walk on Friday? Well guess what, after that walk I left things alone for awhile and was just thankful for the one walk I got. However, guess what happened on Wednesday night? It was nice out again, and I was dying to go on a nice walk outside. If didn’t even matter to me if it was alone or with my hubby. By chance, I had forgotten to set out meat to thaw that morning, so when I got home, I wasn’t sure what to cook for dinner. Ben was already home, and when I explained the dinner predicament, he made this suggestion: How about we walk to dinner?! “WHAT!” I said, “Too good to be true!” And then I thought, “Let me just get this straight… we are going out to eat wings on a weeknight and we are going to walk there?!” Best. Day. Ever. Basically, all of my dreams came true. The fact of the matter is that in my world, now: walking leads to date night.
As Nike says, “Just Do It.” Why wouldn’t someone want to increase both their physical and mental health? And possibly their relationships and check book? Take a walk and see what it can do for you. You’ve got nothing to lose!
Photo Courtesy of Katherine Johnson : Flicker Walk Photo