People have under-estimated the many benefits of walking and as a fan of the activity, it is my responsibility to defend and support it.
I have been walking ever since I was a baby…well probably by about the seventeenth or eighteenth month into my life on this planet. Ever since then, I have been trying to put one foot in front of the other with out falling down. So far, so good.
When you are a little kid, walking is a roll pain in the ass. Your mom and dad always want to go for walks..to get the kids outdoors. All kids really want to do is run…especially in wide open space where you can feel free as a bird. I always have a memory of a park not too far from where I grew up that was massive. It had a few soccer pitches so the only thing blocking my way from running wild was the occasional soccer net. Fortunately, never ran into one.
Walking continues to be a pain in the ass as you mature and are able to walk places on your own…usually to school and back. I hated walking to school. Not just because it was the destination that I was headed to that caused me dread, but because it meant having to walk even when the weather wasn’t so nice. The walk to school during a winter storm or a driving rain was quite unpleasant. If it was freezing cold, my mom would bundle me up, covering every piece of exposed flesh to the elements. I felt like an astronaut walking on the surface of the moon in my space suit. My mom only rarely gave me lifts to school mostly because she wasn’t too keen on being out in the lousy weather herself. So why would she think for a second that I was into it?
Not really until you reach your adult years do you begin to look at walking in a different way. These days, I adore walking because it is a great form of exercise and it gets me outdoors. It gets me from place to place in the most inexpensive way I know. Other than the initial investment in a great pair of shoes, walking is absolutely free! Its cheaper than public transit (and more reliable) and a heck of a lot easier than driving a car (unless of course, your destination is across town or to another city, then it becomes a bit of a hassle).
Walking doesn’t really involve any need to join a health club and unlike when I was a kid dressed like the Michelin Man, I sometimes enjoy bundling up on a cold, clear day and going for a walk.
Walking involves no need for technology and requires no need for high-tech equipment (other than the shoes). It requires virtually no skill or need to take lessons to learn how to do it. All of us have our own built in exercise equipment in our legs!
Sometimes I like to bring along music depending on where I am walking. While horns and traffic can be a huge distraction they also remind me that I am alive and that the fast pace of life continues all the time. Music can take you inwards but can also distract you from the beauty of walking and all that you are able to experience especially if your journey takes you into forested areas where the sounds are spectacular.
Walking can take you off-road. You can walk through parks and forests and along quiet, sleepy city streets.
I read a recent blog about the meditative qualities of walking. I get it. The repetition of movement and the constant pounding of your foot against the ground has a mantra-like similarity.
Walking re-connects me with myself; allows me to have conversations and to figure things out on my own. I try not to talk out loud as I am walking alone. However, when I am walking with someone, usually my wife, we are able to not only catch up on what is going on in our own lives, but to experience things together. We walk through city neighborhoods and comment on houses or nice gardens that we like. Sometimes when we walk at night, we love looking into people’s houses to see how they are decorated…but don’t tell anyone.
The best part of walking with my wife is the ritual we now have of stopping along the way at our favorite coffee shop. Its on our route and in the summer we enjoy sitting outside sipping our brew and sharing a muffin. In the colder weather months, we take it inside. Its great to be together doing our own thing now that our kids are old enough to be home on their own for a while.
The pace with which we live our lives seems to be supersonic. Everyone seems to be running somewhere. What’s the hurry? Slow down and take a walk instead.