Lately I’ve discovered the joy of walking. A former runner forced to slow down by her aching knees and hips, I was sure I’d hate walking. I never thought a brisk walk could possibly give me the same physical and mental health benefits as a good long run.
I am happy to say I was wrong.
Because walking was the gift I never saw coming.
When I walk I can literally smell the roses, always delighted by their warm fragrance.
I can see the busy bees hard at work on the hydrangeas and carefully walk around them with a smile.
I can feel the breeze on my face and laugh as it whips my hair around, no longer annoyed that its distraction is slowing me down.
When I walk I don’t need music blasting in my ears to help me power up a hill or push through exhaustion. I can happily walk for miles listening to the birds singing above me, the children playing in their yards, and, more recently, the crunch of my feet on the fallen leaves.
That crunch made me smile yesterday and I purposely turned down a street with more tree cover just so I could find more leaves.
When I walk I can watch the grass grow. This year I watched the seasons change, right before my eyes, as I walked the relatively same route day after day throughout the spring, summer, and now fall.
I can smell freshly cut grass, a neighbor’s steak cooking on a grill, or the smoke wafting from someone’s outdoor fireplace.
When I walk my mind can wander as I’m not concerned with my pace, breathing pattern, or stride. I can make plans, problem solve, and reflect on my day. I can daydream, have imaginary conversations, and win arguments. I can let my busy brain tire itself out while my body benefits from the physical activity.
And the physical benefits have truly shocked me.
Walking has strengthened my hips so they no longer ache when I sit and sleep. Walking has toned my core and lower body. Walking has given me more energy, especially when I need it most.
When I walk I can take a moment to appreciate the sun. I can tip my face up and let the brightness light me up inside. I can savor its warmth on my skin as I drink in as much vitamin D as possible. After all, winter is coming. The cold will creep in and my time outside will be limited. My walks may need to come to an end for a few months.
Although…I’ve been thinking about buying a warm hat, an insulated jacket, and some good gloves. Perhaps walking will be just what my body and mind need to move through that difficult season relatively unscathed.
Something tells me…I may be right.