The Perks of Walking

I mentioned in my Possible New Years Resolution post that walking might be a good thing to add into your life.  While at UConn, I had to walk to classes, to friends apartments and to activities on campus. It was no big deal and just a part of life. After graduation, if you don’t live in a city, walking takes the backburner to driving.

The tundra was UConn for most of the year.  And we still walked it.Walking UConn

When I first moved to Maryland, I was unsure about going for a run because I didn’t know the area.  So, I decided to explore while walking, without the intent of exercise.  I have to say, it was really nice.  It became a leisure activity.  Rather than bustling to class, or setting out for a jog, walking is very relaxing and just makes you feel good both mentally and physically.  Here are my top reasons to start walking.

1. Fresh Air

Today, everyone is plugged in.  The internet is great, it brings you The Baier Necessities.Smile  But it also makes it much easier to stay inside for a whole day, or even an entire weekend.  By staying cooped up, you may be missing out on the perks of fresh air.  According to the EPA, indoor air can be twice as polluted as fresh, air outside.  If you think about it, the air in your house is being recirculated , the oxygen is being consumed and pollutants like dust and pollen are concentrated.  Outside, air is constantly moving around, and pollutants are dispersed.  By breathing deep outside, you get increased oxygen which can help your lungs, give you a more restful nights sleep and improve your mood.  This article goes into more detail on the benefits of fresh air and proper breathing.

2. Stress Reduction

Have you ever been working on a project at home that just stresses you out?  This could be homework, something you brought home from the office, or just trying to plan a large family gathering.  Sometimes you just need a break.  I find that I cant truly relax if I stay in the same place.  It just reminds me of what I still need to work on and increases my anxiety, rather than reduce it.  By physically leaving that space, you can distance yourself from the stress.  Taking a walk can allow you to casually be distracted by other things or give you time to contemplate a problem more slowly.  I usually find that if I take a walk to clear my head, I come back much more relaxed and ready to refocus on the task at hand.

3. Being Social

Jaunts around the block don’t have to be a solitary adventure.  You can use it as an excuse to catch up with friends or family members, free from distractions at home.  If you have a dog, take him along.  You may even get to know some neighbors.  During one of my walks, I met a young dad who told me about the state park near us.  At this point, I had been living here for 2 months and I had no idea it was there.  You never know what tip bits you might pick up!

My family on vacation in Boston, getting our walk on.Walking Social

4. Physical HealthIMG_0778

The general recommendation is to get 10,000 steps in a day.  This can be from activities of daily living such as getting ready, going to your car or grocery shopping.  It can also include scheduled physically activity such as running or going for a walk.  The original recommendation came from the Japanese as a way to sell pedometers, but research is supporting the medical and health effects of taking on the 10,000 step challenge.

An article in the American Journal of Health Promotion outlines a study done with 56 overweight and obese individuals who had previously led sedentary lives.  They took on the 10,000 step challenge and showed improvements in weight, BMI, body fat, waist circumference, hip circumference and cholesterol.

To the right is a screen shot of my pedometer app on my iPod Touch.  It’s a great way to track you activity for free.  You can also purchase baseline pedometers for less than $10.

5. Whimsy

To quote Dr. Sheldon Cooper, “What’s life without whimsy?”.  You never know what you might find.  It may be some beautiful scenery, an impeccably decorated house, a new town project, or just some fun decorations along the way.  Its just fun to be surprised by what is out there.

Some things that I have seen while out and about. The bear mailbox was a neighbors’ prank turned mailbox.  The carving is from my hometown, where they  are turning the stump of a fallen tree into an art installation. Walking Whimsy 

Walking is a great activity for you mind as well as your body.  If you slowly incorporate more steps into your day by taking some walks, you can reap all of these benefits.  When going for walks, make sure to wear appropriate shoes to avoid injury.  Happy walking!

Do you like to take walks and do you have any suggestions?

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