A walk will do more good

My friend Kathy and I enjoyed an afternoon walk around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, April 2008.

My friend Kathy and I enjoyed an afternoon walk at the Arch in St. Louis, April 2008.

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”  —   Paul Dudley White

My own experience bears out the truth of Dr. White’s observation.  I can’t say enough about how much walking helps me.  It clears my over-stimulated brain, lifts my spirits and puts me in contact with my neighbors and my neighborhood.  When I’m traveling, it shows me more about the place I am visiting than any tour ever could.   It gives me time to enjoy music or books in audio format, and I’ve listened to unabridged versions of literally hundreds of books on my walks.

Besides all this, walking has helped keep my weight down, my cholesterol and blood sugar levels lower (I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago) and has helped to remedy my lifelong problems with insomnia.  And it actually ends up saving me a good bit of gas money when I regularly choose to walk to close destinations such as shops, the post office or the grocery store.

I didn’t start with five miles, of course.  I started with one to two miles and worked up as I felt the immense benefits.  Now it’s an important part of every day for me. Time rarely allows me more than two or three miles anymore, but I hope to work back up to five daily someday.

If you are among those of us who dislike weightlifting, gyms and exercise machines, try walking.  For me, it’s been easier to stick to than any other form of exercise.  It’s one of those rare opportunities to have great fun while improving my physical, mental and financial health.  Spring is a great time get started!

26 Comments

  1. I am a firm believer in walking: both for exercise and health reasons, especially depression. Studies apparently show that its as effective as Prozac. I started walking at lunchtimes when I worked to relieve stress and help weightloss. The latter certainly worked. Now we have two dogs my husband and I walk for at least an hour every day. I know we reap the benefits.

    • I just love visiting your blog and going on “virtual walks” with you, Max and Jez. You seem to go to places I would find so peaceful or interesting. Then you sometimes finish up with a delicious-looking treat as well! I think part of why the world gets so crazy sometimes is that so many people never do any walking to speak of. I just don’t think our brains have evolved to the point that we can process optimally with such speedy input all the time. Dogs are great at getting people up and out. Most of the neighbors I know, I met while all of us were out walking our dogs.

  2. 🙂

  3. Sheila

    Julia, this so applies to me this morning. I think I’ll go for a brisk walk and see if it helps. It can’t hurt! I just got up,said “good morning” to Bill and then asked him if his tail was wagging. Always a Salty greeting! Thank you, Julia. I so hope food is in Jeff’s agenda today. Sheila

    • Sheila, how funny, I always ask Pasha the same thing, even though his tail is docked so short he hardly has one! That’s how I can tell how he feels on any given day; if he’s feeling well, I can count on that tiny little tail waggling. I’m sure Bill doesn’t mind taking over answering that question. Food is not quite in Jeff’s agenda, but they did pull the NG tube (with the caveat that it might have to go back in, but they really wanted to give it a shot) and if all goes well and the xrays improve, he will start on liquids tomorrow. We’ll keep hoping. I’m afraid I’m eating enough for the two of us, not really helpful. 🙂

  4. Five miles! Great! No wonder you look so beautiful and energetic.
    Women cannot go out alone here. So Yoga is my type of exercise. I do it for 45 minutes in the morning on all working days. It has given me relief from all sorts of aches. I feel I have better control over myself these days. And happy to say I hardly gained any weight after entering motherhood.
    That picture has an interesting combination of striking colours.

    • Thanks Bindu, I love Kathy’s red coat; it makes for great photos. I need to get into Yoga now that I am having increasing problems with arthritis. I did some Yoga positions years ago when I was in college and it really helped with flexibility, something I need to improve now that I’m getting old and stiff! I just love walking though. Especially with music or a good book to listen to. You are doing well if you don’t gain weight after children; that’s when it hits most of us — that and also when one passes 50; both my husband and I noticed a sharp increase in the tendency to gain weight after we passed 50.

  5. Kathy

    Amen and amen!

    • Thanks – hope you don’t mind that I didn’t get your permission before featuring you as the “star” of today’s post!

  6. I’ve always found walking to be a great way to clear my mind or get my thoughts in order. It is something I need to make more time to do

    • Yes, I’ve never regretted any of the time I’ve allocated to walking. Once you get in the habit, it will take on the urgency of a daily “must-do,” at least it did for me. Thanks for visiting here and for your comment!

  7. You’ve inspired me. First thing tomorrow, I’m taking a walk. I just bought new headsets and I can listen to some of my favorite music (probably John Prine) and get some aerobic exercise.

    • That’s great news! I hope you like it as much as I do. There are so many benefits, but the biggest one for me is SANITY. BTW I am about 1/4 through The Brothers Karamazov (in unabridged audio format) and I must admit I like it a lot better than I thought I would. The reader on the edition I’m listening to is pretty good at keeping the characters’ voices distinct so it’s easier to follow the dialogue.

      • What a great book! And good timing. I have a young Facebook friend from India who has asked me to recommend some quality Russian literature. I’m definitely putting that one on the list.

      • Carolyn

        I have been walking and I am up to two miles and that is with Terry pulling along. Doctor said that was the best thing I could be doing now. While we were are Jennifers, I was not happy about having to walk. One day Emma,12, asked me if walking was my dirty word, yes when I don’t want to go. She just laughed and was always telling papa to ask if I was ready to walk. She is so good to have around. Give Jeff and Matt our love. Talk later.

        .

        • Carolyn, I am so happy you are walking and very proud of you for making the effort after all you have been through. I hope you will come to love it as much as I do. I don’t think I could do it without my music or audiobooks, though…you might want to try that and see if it helps. If you don’t have or want an iPod, you can get a good Mp3 player pretty cheaply and download all the books you want, free from the library. If your library has Freegal you can even get some good music free! And legal — hence the name. Maybe you can have Emma come stay with you for awhile this summer to nag you 🙂 Love to you and Terry.

  8. You are soooo right, Julia. I guess someone needs to burn all the chairs in my home… I think I know someone who might. 🙂

    • Or you could call Goodwill to haul them away! Good luck and keep moving!

  9. Julia, I enjoy walking in general, but when I am overwhelmed, I must walk. Right now, I live close to the beach and I find that walking on the dunes, looking at the sea, gives me fresh perspective- the larger than life issues just shrink, shrink, shrink! I am always in a better frame of mind when I return home, and even if the issue hasn’t disappeared, I’m filled with hope.

    • Isn’t the seaside wonderful?! I just love the beach, and I’ve written several posts on it, including this one with a photo of the dunes at Cape Cod. We live close enough to go to the Virginia shore fairly frequently, but not close enough to go as often as I’d like! Here’s another one I wrote about the ocean. It really is therapeutic; what a wonderful gift! Thanks so much for visiting here, and for your comment.

  10. These are all things I should know and appreciate the reminder. We do tend to walk out a lot downtown since it doesn’t make sense to drive, but I should go further, more often. One of the things I so enjoyed when we had a dog. It really gets you out there without even thinking about it. Twice a day, I watched as Buddy was in 7th heaven just wondering ahead, sniffing every blade and greeting all who crossed his path with a wagging tail. It seemed more fun with a dog. We’re getting close to golf season here too, so that’s a big help.

    • Yes, dogs are so wonderful for people in so many ways, and walking with the is one of the biggest benefits. They truly do know how to savor the moment, don’t they? I always get a kick out of seeing other people’s dogs that are very friendly and inquisitive. People will stop and have conversations with strangers if the dogs break the ice first. It’s almost like dog owners are never strangers to each other. Golf is the only sport I ever did well at during P.E. in college (back when we were required to take it!) but I never really had much desire to learn it; the only reason I would is so I could walk the gorgeous courses! Did you happen to go to Pebble Beach while you were in CA? Probably not or you might not have come back!!!

      • We never take our clubs on holidays but my husband would probably really love golfing there. My game is not worthy of spending that much on a round. 😀 Golf is probably the only thing you can do for 20 years and get worst every year LOL….or maybe it’s just me.

        • No, I think it’s not just you! I hear a lot of comments to that effect.

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