Submitted by Jane Wiser
Many of you may know that I am a walker. I used to be a runner but the pounding on the knees and hips placed that in the rearview mirror.
Walking is a must when you have a dog, but without the tail wagging demand for exercise, relief and attention, walking can still be enjoyable and beneficial. Plus, you don’t have to make as many pitstops and sniffs!
Chip and I began a walking regimen many years ago as a way to connect without the interruption of phones and kids. Our walks became therapeutic for several reasons. Weekdays we walk in the afternoon and on the weekend, our morning walks are vigorous and satisfying. We have worked through many family issues, discussed concerns openly, and have discovered new frontiers both at home and while traveling. We really got to know San Francisco by foot, walking to destination restaurants and museums. Here are some thoughts on the benefits of walking:
The pace of a walk can be deliberate and upbeat. A morning walk is the best way to wake your brain up for the day, because the sun’s light communicates that it’s time to stop sleeping, which sometimes takes a while for me! Moderate sunlight exposure signals serotonin production in the brain, which raises your mood. It also helps your body absorb vitamin D and boosts your immune system. Since walking comes naturally our brain is allowed to wander and brainstorm. I can organize my thoughts, or simply let them wander. Either way, I am awakened and in control. An afternoon walk quells the urges to snack or nap and wakes me up for the balance of the day.
Walking is easy on the body and still offers multiple health benefits. Make no mistake, “strolling” is not in our vocabulary, so we get our hearts pumping! Walking improves endurance and circulation, lowers the risk of chronic disease and is much easier on the joints than impactful exercise. And these effects last all day long ~ I experience less pain and fatigue and have better digestion. Walking can be a supplemental exercise or your primary aerobic activity depending on how you want to walk. Also, exposure to germs and perspiration outside is less than in a gym.
As gardeners, we know the many health benefits of being outside in nature. I find that if I spend too much time indoors it affects my spirit. If I’m stuck at a computer or cooking, I get anxious and a little bitter, I’m not going to lie. Breathing fresh air, feeling the natural temperature, and dealing with the elements brings me peace. Walking makes me more aware. I see more and have become more observant of birds, trees, and natures noises, and find myself asking more questions of Mother Nature.
So, if you find yourself feeling anxious or a bit bitter, put on your sneakers and head outside. You don’t need a dog to make walking a part of your routine! I hope you enjoy some time outside and find peace, and I’ll see you around town!