Walking: The Exercise That Helps You Put Your Best Foot Forward

walking

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Do you associate exercise with a gym membership? There’s no doubt that a spin class or weight lifting offers a host of physical benefits.  But maybe the idea of membership to your local gym doesn’t fit in your budget or schedule. More importantly, does a crowded gym offer calmness or a place for quiet reflection? There is a soulful way to get exercise. Walking provides not only physical benefits but also well-being benefits too.

Walking for a Workout

There are different facets of walking. Your speed and the frequency of your walks factor into the type of workout you get. Check out Best Free Walking Apps for Fitness Walkers.

Before you put on your walking shoes, decide what kind of workout you want.

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Brisk Walk

Whether your canine can keep, that is for you to decide. If you want to make a marked improvement in your physical health “brisk walking involved a pace of about 2.7 miles per hour. Or put more simply, it required about 100 steps per minute,” according to a 2018 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Power Walk

A power walk clocks in at 5 five miles per hour or 130 steps per minute. Power walking requires a little more focus on maintaining a straight posture with arms pumping (note: pumping NOT flailing).

Power walking serves a different purpose than a brisk walk with a friend. Often, the intensity of a power walk forces you to focus on breathing. In other words, don’t expect to give your walking partner a plot summary of your favorite book.

Nordic Walk

Nordic walking originated in, obviously, Finland. For decades in the 1900s, athletes in Finland had been training for winter cross-country skiing by walking in the summers with just the ski poles (they called it “ski-walking.”) And, people had been walking and hiking in the outdoors with sticks.

Remember the Nordic Track from the 1970s? America’s version of Nordic walking sans snow and arctic temps, unless you live in a state that borders Canada. Recently Nordic walking has become a popular stateside form of exercise. American Nordic walking clubs are popping up across the continent.

The specially designed polls used in Nordic walking reduces the impact on lower body joint and transfers the effort to your upper body muscles.

As you walk, take note of the beauty that surrounds you. Take it all in with gratitude and joy.

Walking For a Soulful Purpose

Soulful Walking

Soulful walking eases stress, improves mood, and cultivates an awareness of creation custodianship.

Outside among the trees and birdsongs, those common objects of creation take on new beauty and significance. When busyness and distraction begin to suffocate my joy, I know it is time to take to the woods for a soulful walk. The other day I ventured on a soulful, walk at an arboretum not far from my house.

When busyness and distraction begin to suffocate my joy, I know it is time to take to the woods for a soulful walk. Click To Tweet

 

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I set my phone on vibrate, clutched my journal, and slowly inhaled, exhaled.

I took the Upland trail that took me past Nancy’s meadow. The meadow had begun to awaken from its winter slumber. Mockingbirds balanced on saplings and marsh grass. Blue Herons swayed in the wind landing long enough to snatch up a mollusk. A wide dirt path flowed into an enormous forest that hosted a peaceful place to walk. A chorus of Spring Peepers chirped along the labyrinth of small waterways at Blockston Branch. A surge of calm enveloped me as I tilted my head back to see the afternoon sun peek through the branches of the poplar and pine trees.

An hour later I emerged from the woods and the meadow, refreshed. Instead of a walk, I could have gone to the library or my favorite coffee hang-out, but I needed solitude and white space.

Nature Walks

I remember when my kids were young and if we were having a particularly stressful day, I would often pack up the van and we would go for a simple nature walk. As we walked, we pointed to wild flowers and listened to the bellow of bullfrogs and watched a whitetail doe lap water.

The nature walk mitigated the stress we felt when we first arrived at the nature center. Recent studies show that “Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster,

During our nature walks, when we stared into a bird’s nest or watched an egret in flight, we thought of them as beautiful Divine works created by our loving God.

Charlotte Mason, a nineteenth-century British educator, and advocate of nature walks wrote:

point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may believe He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human children rejoice in.”

Those times of nature walks stirred up a love of the outdoors and awe for God. A nature walk is a small way to teach great things.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Walking is a great way to get physical exercise, boost your mood, and manage stress. You can walk a tree-lined street in your neighborhood, visit a park, or green space.

 


3 Comments

  1. susanslandry on April 17, 2019 at 12:56 pm
    I love Leslie Sansone's indoor walking programs, and use them frequently. But man, there's nothing like getting outside in the fresh air for a walk. I took 2 yesterday, in fact!
  2. Christa on April 23, 2019 at 7:47 pm
    I had no idea Nordic walking was becoming a thing! That's really cool!

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