So is this just a 35 year old thing or is walking just absolutely great?
Today I went for a Sunday ramble around Ivinghoe Beacon with Mr G and Rupert and it was an utter delight. It was sunny and cold with frost still on the ground.
I’ve really got into wandering around in the last year. I’ve even sort of considered the nordic walking thing with those cool pole stick things. Easy now.
After a few surgeries in 2016 I used walking as a way to heal; both body and mind. It felt like it was a relatively easy and enjoyable way of getting the blood pumping again and probably more noticeable was the way it made me feel emotionally. I would sometimes literally be walking around alone…smiling?
I started as a fair-weather walker, only emerging if the sun had its hat on, regardless of temperature. Then I got the bug and started walking in the rain too.
Ever aware that I was possibly losing my marbles, I started reading up on the benefits of taking a walk. Article content ranged from how it can slow the ageing process to how it can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. It can tone your arse and legs too apparently.
However, I thought i’d share some non scientific, non tested or medically approved reasons as to why I like to walk.
It’s all too beautiful
I honestly think that walking around in nature is the quickest way to ease stress for me. No matter where you are, city or forest, you can find something brilliant to look at.
As soon as I’m out and about, free and away from a situation, office environment or general bad vibe I just feel everything ease and relax.
I’m lucky enough to live near some fields, woods and countless ‘public footpath’ signs that lead to who knows where.
I try to tuck my phone away in my pocket and spend at least a sizeable chunk of my walk just looking at things through just my eyes. I know, I know. What about the crucial pic of the landscape for Instagram? Ok, yes. I’ll take one of that particular scene. ONE. Then move on. Until the next one…
Last year I started making an effort to actually take lunch breaks at work. I’m Camden based so walking to and around Regents Park, or along the Regents Canal is too easy not to take advantage of.
You start to actually notice things and realise how much you’ve missed before. I think maybe because I meditate this might help with the noticing, but I think I’m generally much more alert on walks these days. I’ll notice a squirrel burying its nuts, or a bouncy little robin ducking into a nearby bush. And these simple things make me fucking ecstatic. Every single time. I mean how perfect is a daring little robin red breast for christ sake?
It’s calm and restorative…but it’s still exercise.
Thing is, I hate running. I’ve tried it and it makes me feel sick. There was a brief stint some years back when I first got with Mr G where I would run a little, do charity 5ks etc. Now I couldn’t think of anything worse. Partly I think, because it reminds me of being in a rush, or late for something. I think i ran a bit frantically. And that stressed me OUT. But walking on the other hand. If you manage to get up a good pace and walk in areas where there are some inclines, you’ll soon rediscover those bum and leg muscles again.
Walking can give you a quick and free route to the hallowed destination we know as ‘me time’.
Combined with some funky breathing techniques – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Or blown from the mouth. Or ujjayi breathing like in some forms of yoga practice – a walk can be powerful for the mind and soul. You can focus on just being where you are – the smells, sounds, sights and sensations on your skin or through your hair. You can apply meditative techniques too – such as noticing thoughts creeping in before sending them on their merry way again.
And when you get back home or to the office it feels as though you are ready for what’s next.
There have been a number of occasions where I’ve lost it and decided to walk somewhere instead of drive. There were a few times last year for example, where I needed to take some clothes back to the relatively nearby shops. One was an 8 mile walk there and back and the other was a 7 mile walk one way. I plugged in the tunes and off I went, clocking up the steps and topping up the happy.
I recently met Lesley and Angela while I was out walking Rupert locally just before Christmas.
Lesley had just lost her husband to cancer and Angela was her new neighbour. Angela had a rescue dog called Connor. We got chatting and realised that we pretty much live a 20 second walk from one another yet we’d never met. Lesley got a bit teary about her husband and I offered a rub on the back and told her we are here if she ever needs us or if she wants to bring her little grand daughter around to see Rupert.
Anyway, the point is this. A walk should offer up a number of opportunities to smile and be smiled back at. To greet people with a good morning/afternoon and to put some good vibes back out in the world. Too many people are head down or nose to phone screen these days but the people who make eye contact or idle chit chat are the best ones.
Dogs. All the dogs.
I’m that girl. The one who will cross the road to be on the SAME side as the oncoming dog. I make a weird mouth clicky noise as we get closer to one another before I inevitably crouch down to have a scratch of the dogs back, head and ears. God I love them.
And who better to learn mindful walking from than dogs? I really recommend sitting on a bench at a nearby park one day soon and just watch as dogs size each other up, submit, play, tumble and chase. All that matters is right then and there. Nothing else at all.
I’ve started to ask owners permission to take a pic of their dog for future features on the blog.
It fuels your curiosity
I love getting lost. No seriously. How good is it to take a turn and not know where it leads? Maybe it’s my infatuation with the best film ever made; The Labyrinth – don’t fight me on this – but one day I hope to take a wrong turn and find a fucking mystical land of dreams and talking caterpillars.
While I wait for that to materialise, i’ll imagine it instead as I scooch down and through a nearby hole in a hedge.
You can learn or be inspired while you move
Ok this is a goody.
If you’re in the mood to learn, plugging your earphones in and popping on a podcast is brilliant.
Often an hour will pass before you know it and you’re nearing the 10,000 step mark and you’ve stimulated your brain.
Some of my faves are:
Last Friday at work as 6pm approached, I was chitchatting to a guy about what he was doing this weekend and one of his replies was ‘probably a nice winter walk’. YES. This is really a thing people. Hop aboard that pavement or trail! Select a walk thats right for you that day; one to work your tush, one to stretch and wander, one to blow away the cobwebs or one to immerse in some learning.
It’s cool to walk.