“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks” John Muir
The sun glistens on my shoulders and I breathe in the fresh air that clears my mind and lets the nomad in me wander. The simple activity of walking is a daily gift we can give ourselves. There is no membership fee required and the destination can vary along the way. When we were kids, we walked everywhere. There was no carpool or GPS, let alone Google! I have to admit, it made life a little more adventurous. Walking used to be the default mode of transportation, but now it's considered a leisure activity. I love taking walks, and since my 12-year-old dog is still spry, I have the opportunity everyday!
Steps to Live Longer
Prompted by pedometers, Fitbits, and health tracker apps, the golden number of steps that most people seem to shoot for is 10,000 per day. That sounds like a crazy number, but you would be surprised how fast it adds up! A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association focused on these daily steps by looking at step count and intensity as it relates to mortality. The results found that a greater number of steps (regardless of intensity) was associated with longer life. Researchers at UMass Amherst set out to see if smaller steps might be related to longevity and heart disease prevention. They discovered that the participants that accumulated 7,000 steps daily were 50% less likely to expire earlier than those who didn’t get in as many steps. Not everyone can get to that number, but some walking is better than none! The sweet spot for exercise is somewhere between 2.6 and 4.5 hrs a week. This becomes more attainable if you just break it down to about 30 minutes of activity a day, at least 5 days a week.
Strides to Saunter
There is a unique cadence and style of walking for every individual. Some like to swing or bend their arms to create a pendulum effect. Maybe you're into the prancer craze, or you find that a slow solo stroll is best for you. Healthy habits and the benefits of walking will pay off and those steps today will continue to keep the doctor away. So, how do you get motivated? First of all, suit up- get yourself a great pair of shoes and some versatile exercise apparel! I like sneakers paired with the IBKUL Solid UPF50+ Performance Legging. The stretch and breathability of these leggings are superb, and along with the convenient cell phone pocket and comfortable elastic waistband, I find myself wanting to wear these all day. The Out Of The Box UPF50+ Sun Shirt, also by IBKUL, keeps me cool in the sun and protected from UV rays. Plus, it coordinates beautifully with the leggings! Hey, I might as well look sharp while I’m breaking a sweat. The investment in good workout gear that lasts is well worth it.
Another way to get in your steps is to ask a friend or neighbor to join you for a little extra push. You can even have a mini therapy session along the way. If you find yourself bored with the same route, switch it up by exploring new areas. I go to parks and occasionally drive to other neighborhoods to look at the architecture. I also really enjoy walking near the water. A sunrise barefoot beach walk can be so meditative, and connecting to Mother Nature has strong emotional benefits. Walking also improves your balance, posture, and body awareness. All in all, walking regularly is good medicine.
“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears” Rumi
Walking it off works. Feeling perplexed, stressed, or in a bad mood? Carry on one step at a time. We spend too much time sitting and not enough time exploring. My family just visited the NightGarden at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. The cool air was lovely and the landscape was all lit up for the holidays. It was a wonderful way to feel energized. Walking in a gallery or an outdoor art installation is an excellent way to liven up the legs. The Wynwood Walls (also in Miami) are so unusual and you can make your own way through as you take in bursts of color from the incredible street art. You won’t even notice that you are exercising!
What's your favorite spot on the planet to walk? Share yours below so we can find new paths to travel!