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Take a Walk!

Published in For the Health of It, Exercise Author: Ken Holmen, MD, President and CEO

Take a walk! Take a hike! Remember those words from TV shows and movies from years past? It turns out – we should.

Back in September, the Surgeon General announced his Step It Up! Call To Action to Promote Walking and Walkability which aims to increase walking across the nation by calling for access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll.

I like to walk, not only for the exercise but also for some other reasons. Many times I am walking with someone else – family member, friend, or even maybe walking with someone you don’t know well. This is a great opportunity to be really present with that individual – no multitasking. Other times – when walking alone – silence is golden (though certain other sounds may be around us).

Ahhhh, this is good!

When walking my other senses that seem frozen when I am inside seem to wake up – smells, colors, sounds – all much more alive. As I walk, my mind seems to enter a different zone – one that is more peaceful and less hectic. As I settle into the rhythm of walking, I feel less stiff and constrained. My breathing and diaphragm expand, my back and leg muscles stretch out, and the body (even as we age) says – “Ahhhh, this is good”.  And sleeping after a walk – ummmm.

One other thing to mention. When walking we look about and notice things, and see other things. How about that awkward moment when you meet someone you don’t know. Do you put your head down, and walk by? Do you mumble? Or do say – "Hi" or "Good evening"? After I do greet someone, I feel better. My sense of community and sharing has been refreshed, and that feels good. Say “‘Hi” – you’ll feel better, and undoubtedly someone else will as well.

So – Take a walk, Take a hike – with someone you care about.  Open your senses. And if you are alone – enjoy the peace, but if you meet someone – step outside your comfort zone and share a warm greeting. It’s good for you.