Anyone who knows me knows that I love to walk nearly everywhere I go. It’s my preferred method of transportation by far. Whenever I have errands that are five or less miles away, I walk whenever I can. When I was in school I walked to and from classes — about six miles each way from my apartment — and it was a great deal of fun.
My local grocery store is about two miles away from my home. If there are only a few things that I need, I can easily stroll over there and back. I much prefer this to getting in a car and zipping over. Of course, the car method is more practical if I have a full week’s worth of groceries to buy, but if it’s just a handful of items, the walk is just fine with me.
I also walk my son to and from daycare and school whenever the weather permits. His school is about half a mile from home, and his daycare is a just a few blocks down the road. So, walking him back and forth gives us both some wonderful walking time together each and every day. I cherish these walks; they’re much more fun than driving the short distance to daycare and school. Plus, I hope that doing this gives my son a lifelong love of walking, so we can do it together for many years to come.
There are many reasons why I choose to walk as much as I do. The following are just a few of them:
Brisk walking is like going to the gym
It’s no secret that exercise is a fundamental pillar of good health. Walking happens to be my very favorite form of exercise, hands down. If you walk briskly (I like to walk fast and my son does too!), you get yourself some great cardiovascular exercise, and strengthen your muscles, as well. The following are just a few medically recognized benefits of brisk walking:
- Improving your cardiovascular health
- Lowering blood pressure
- Preventing type 2 diabetes and other metabolic illnesses
- Aiding in weight loss (even better than going to the gym)
- Keeping your muscles strong and healthy
- Promoting strong bones
- Maintaining good balance
- Encouraging optimal coordination
- Promoting good mood and mental health
The research is quite clear on this: if you make brisk walking a regular part of your day, you’ll very likely enjoy better health in a multitude of ways. This has definitely been true for me, so I keep on walking!
Walking releases endorphins for better mood
As mentioned, walking has been found to improve mood, and I have found this to be incredibly true in my experience. If I am feeling down, stressed or upset about something, it really helps me to take a long walk — the longer the better. This may have a lot to do with the endorphins released by exercise, but I think it’s also related to simply moving through the city on my own two feet. There’s something very freeing and centering about it, and it makes me feel good.
Even if I’m still upset after the walk, I always feel more grounded and more open to calmly ruminating on solutions. Walking may not solve all of my problems, but it really does help improve my attitude about them.
Walking helps calm my anxiety
I have always struggled with anxiety. For years, walking has been one of my main go-to therapies. One summer years ago, when I was feeling particularly anxious, I walked outside (sometimes alone, sometimes with friends) for about five or six hours of the day, because being cooped up inside made my anxiety worse, and walking made it better. If I’m feeling anxious, whether a little or a lot, going for a long walk outside helps me greatly.
Being outdoors helps me sleep better
Just being outdoors has been linked to a great number of health benefits, both physical and mental. These include better sleep, quicker healing, increased creativity, more energy and lowered anxiety and depression. For these reasons (and because I just love it), I spend as much time outside as I can.
Walking is a great way to discover new places
As I walk, I like to take in the sights and sounds around me. On many a walk through the city, I have discovered new cafes, restaurants, meeting spots, trees and more. These are places that I would not have seen had I not been out walking around. There may be awesome places hidden deep within your city that you never would have imagined. Go take a walk and find them!
The same goes for the countryside. If you take long walks often, you’ll likely find your perfect picnic, relaxation and fishing spots in no time.
Walking is fun!
The main reason that I walk nearly everywhere I go is because I truly enjoy it. No other mode of transportation brings me nearly as much satisfaction. So, unless my destination is very far, I’m in a hurry or I have a lot of stuff to carry, I choose to walk. The more you do it, the stronger your legs get and the healthier your heart and lungs become. With this increased health comes increased fun, and the benefits just keep piling up.
Have you taken a walk yet today? If not, why not get out there?
— Tanya Mead