There is an abundance of information in regards to walking available. This post is not nearly able to cover every inch of detail, but does have enough to go deeper than hearing “just walk it’s good for you”. It is understood that not everyone has the ability to walk. There are many with restrictions of many kinds, some repairable, and some not. Although I intend to make my posts to be helpful to everyone, there are always exceptions. Forgive me if this information does not apply to you. Hopefully there is still something you can pull out of it. It is possible that seeing only a few words can spark something else that may better apply to you.
“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet”– Thich That Hanh
Walking is one of our basic functions of life. An ability that the majority of us humans are blessed to have, once we learn how to walk. It never made much sense to me why anyone could hate walking, I’ve heard that hate word used for walking before… I can see that some conditions such as weather, distance, personal physical condition, to name a few could be why. What about those of us that have none of those conditions or obstacles to face and are still not interested in getting out and walking? Those of us could benefit greatly by stepping out on two of our biggest blessings, our two feet, and moving one foot in front of the other. There are so many excuses when it comes to walking, or lack there of. I have no time! I already ran today so why would I walk!? I am scared to walk by myself! Walking is to boring for me! (needs to walk the most) Why walk somewhere then I can drive and get there faster!? These are just a few excuses, there are countless more. Although some excuses may be valid depending on the circumstances that we face, most things when really examined, are more of a mind game and are possible to over come. Many of us are unconscious when it comes to walking. Don’t believe me? Take a look at how many of us do not value walking and try to avoid it. Take a look at how some us walk, when we finally do. The more we observe, the more we notice. Ok, with all of this being said, let’s take a look at some reasons why something as simple and natural as walking daily can be beneficial in our lives.
What Exactly Is Walking?
The word “walk” is defined as follows by The Cambridge Dictionary: “to move along by putting one foot in front of the other, or to move a distance in this way”. This sounds really simple, and is. Another reason why we should do it more often. Another way to describe walking is with the word locomotion. Locomotion is a process in where an animal moves itself from one geographic position to another. The process of locomotion involves stopping, altering direction, starting, changes in speed and modifications for changes in slope of the terrain. In the very comprehensive book, Human Walking by Jessica Rose and James Gamble, the authors mention walking as the following, “Human walking is a process of locomotion in which the erect, moving body is supported by first one leg and then the other. As the moving body passes over the supporting leg, the other leg swings forward in preparation for its next support phase. One foot or the other is always on the ground, and during that period when the support of the body is transferred from the trailing to the leading leg there is a brief period when both feet are on the ground.” They go on in the book to show us that about 85 percent of the gait (Walk) cycle is done on just one leg! This also makes walking a balancing act as well, not as boring as it seems once it is dissected a little. As with everything, walking can mean different things for all of us. It could be the worst thing ever, or the best moment of our day. It shouldn’t be neglected by any of us who are fortunate enough to have the ability to walk. Remember theres always someone who cannot walk that would love to be able to for even a few minutes.
Some Health Benefits of Walking
Here are some of the health benefits of walking according to The Mayo Clinic…
With as sedentary as most of us are in todays world, simply walking will be a huge step in the positive direction. Whether you’re out of shape and considered obese, or a professional athlete, or anywhere in between, these health benefits are granted to all. A lot of people think that they should be running or spending many minutes on a cardio machine at a gym to build endurance, wrong, there is no “should”, and it can be debated that walking is more beneficial than running. Doing those activities may be beneficial for some as well, but simply walking for 30-60 min a day is just as good for the body, with much less impact on the body. Besides setting a side a few minutes for walking a day it is a good idea to get up throughout the day as well and move around. In The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn she writes about the effects of too much non movement in our day and its effect on our telomeres and how it is beneficial to move throughout our days, “In addition to planned exercise, it’s important to keep moving throughout the day. Activity that is woven into your daily life lifts you out of the dreaded “sedentary” category, which is linked to shorter telomeres and causes metabolic changes that can lead to more insulin resistance and inflammation.” Telomeres are similar to the plastic tips at the end of shoe laces. They are at the caps of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. Without the plastic steps at the end of shoe laces the laces become frayed until they are useless. Once the telomeres lose their integrity, our DNA can no longer do it’s job well. We begin to age quicker with less movement, telomeres shrinking is a part of aging. Walking is a way to prevent this from happening prematurely. There it is, the best result of all from a walking program, staying young and vibrant! Note: although walking is great for our health, it is important to know how to and be mindful of walking correctly, with optimal posture. Due to the extent of this topic it will have to be covered in a future post. If you feel you need assistance, look online at proper walking postures and do your best to emulate what you find, or consult with a skilled practitioner who knows how to assess and coach gait (Walking). It is not intended to discourage anyone by mentioning posture, it’s worth starting/practicing a walking routine regardless.
Some Preferences of Mine for Walking
Pictured here is the sun rising over a pond that I got to enjoy months ago. I catch many sunsets, sunrises are always tougher for me to catch.
Me personally, on days that I do not walk for at least 20 minutes, I feel worse. I feel stressed out from the day, I feel sluggish, I feel like I missed out on something. This also includes the days that I lift weights or do any other form of exercises, which is 4-6 days a week typically. Walking for me is more than putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a form of meditation, a form of education. Some ways I like to make walking more enjoyable for myself are as follows…
- Mood Improvement
- Balance and Coordination Improvement
- Metabolism Improvement
- Cardiovascular Exercise
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Strengthen Bones and Muscles
- Weight Loss
- Boost Endurance
- Lessens Risk of Disease
I have gone through many books and lectures over the years from listening while walking. I feel what I listen to while I walk is absorbed very well. The phone calls I have while walking are always better, I fell more alive on the phone and I’m sure whoever is speaking with me can sense it as well. Walking backwards is very challenging and meditating in itself. I once walked backwards for an hour straight, my calves were sore for 4 days, it was brutal yet a great experience. It shows how much different the motion is from forward walking. There are many forms available on walking meditations, I like the walking meditation by Layne Redmond on the album titled Chakra Breathing Meditations. She, Layne Redmond, guides you on synching breath with steps and focusing on different areas of your body while walking. It helps bring awareness to breathing and walking together. For those that feel they need something to do while walking it is perfect. The 20 minute track passes very quickly. It can also be done walking in place. Layne Redmond also has music that is worth looking into. The perfect ending to my walks are when they involve seeing the sunset. The chance to see the sunset alone has gotten me out to walk plenty of times. I hope that walking can be enjoyed by everyone as much as it is by me. I feel that if more people would simply walk daily it would boost our collective moods and there would be many more happy people. If any of the ways to walk that I mentioned are tried by those that do not enjoy to walk, there is a very good chance that feeling towards walking my change, everyone is different. Get out to wherever you need to be to walk, create the environment that is desired to walk in. Create the desire and the action to walk and reap the rewards.
Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Every walk is a journey, every step is the process, enjoy it.
- Catching the Sunrise or Sunset
- Listening to Audiobooks/Lectures
- Listening to Music
- Listening to My Surrounds (Birds, Wind, People, Dogs, Cars, Etc)
- Walking Backwards (Game Changer, Calve Killer)
- Breath Focus
- Meditating on How to Conquer Current Life Challenges
- Talking on Phone
- Walking the beach
Awareness and vitality,
Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health by The Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261)
Human Walking, 3rd Edition by Jessica Rose, James Gamble (https://www.amazon.com/Human-Walking-Jessica-Rose-RPT/dp/0781759544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522079182&sr=8-1&keywords=human+walking)
The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn (http://www.b2c.hachettebookgroup.com/features/the%2Dtelomere%2Deffect/)
Chakra Breathing Meditations Audio CD/MP3 by Layne Redmond (https://layneredmond.com/shop/product/chakra-breathing-meditations-2/)