When I first began writing to meet a deadline, I found that I could sit at the computer for only a limited number of hours. Every 15 minutes or so, I would walk around the house or yard. I might get a glass of iced tea or stroll through the yard. After a couple of hours, I had to completely stop and take a walk. Armed with my 30 to 40 sheets of manuscript and a sharp pencil, I would slowly meander through our neighborhood while rereading and re-editing the document I’d just written.
I learned from this experience that taking a walk is different from other exercises. Walking is a low impact, uncomplicated pathway to greater health. As simple as it is, taking a walk can be an amazing stress reliever. Stress is a fact of life. No matter what your occupation or avocation, you are hit with harmful stress if you don’t watch your step. Some of the most beneficial steps are taken while you walk.
Walking relieves stress levels because it increases our levels of endorphins. These are the hormones which medical professionals tell us make us happy. One reason is that endorphins help you to feel good about yourself.
Of course, you can get the endorphin jolt from ordinary exercise. So why walk instead?
Walking allows you to slow down enough to enjoy the wonders of your natural surroundings. It’s almost impossible to walk and not find something that is fascinating and interesting.
Wild flowers inching between the cracks in the sidewalk, a bug scurrying away to feed her young, your neighbor’s willow tree swinging in the wind can become moment of exquisite pleasure. By alerting your mind to become involved in the adventure, you can experience a delightful, stress-defeating break.
The best walks happen along the shore of a lake, river or ocean. The rhythmic sounds of moving water adds additional stress relieving benefits. However, for many people, this isn’t possible. Nevertheless, if you are one of the fortunate folks who can walk near a body of water, this excursion produces a significant calming affect.
If you have a raincoat and an umbrella, don’t be afraid to walk in the rain. Take off your shoes and socks. Roll up your pant legs. Splash in the puddles. Take pleasure and benefit from the textures and coolness of the water.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus and his disciples walked continually. In fact, in those days, everyone walked several miles a day. Times have changed. Modern transportation can easily take us thousands of miles in one day. However, some of the greatest stress-relieving benefits can be found through the healthy and simple exercise of walking.