The healing power of a nice long walk

Move over, banana bread and sourdough. I think walks should be the hot trend of 2020.

It seems like everyone I talk to is enjoying neighborhood walks (with the exception of my friends in New York who are still reporting anxiety on the crowded sidewalks).

Here in Seattle, my friends are happily noticing birds and lovely gardens. I’ve been known to stick my nose in the flowers to get a good smell. I probably shouldn’t be doing that during a pandemic, should I?

In early March, the first couple weeks of quarantine, I donned my rain jacket or even winter puffer for my walks. I got to watch as things went from brown and bare to green and lush. The cherry blossoms bloomed, dropped white petals and pollen everywhere, and then turned a rich burgundy color. I watched the tulips go from barely peeking out of the ground to tall and open to wilted brown leaves. What a gorgeous spring it’s been and how wonderful it’s been to notice all the changes.

Cherry blossoms + winter coat back in March. (Look how much shorter my hair was, too!)

Walking also comes with a myriad of health benefits.

My therapist friends tell me they’re great for letting go of stress and anxiety. Leave your phone at home or in your pocket and get a good dose of mindfulness.

Since my expertise lies in the weight management category, I can tell you that for most people 20-30 minutes of moderate walking is really all you need to maintain your current weight. That’s assuming, of course, that you don’t walk to the bar, bakery or ice cream shop for a high-calorie treat.

For weight loss or more substantial health benefits, up the intensity by jogging, walking uphill or carrying a backpack. You could also ride a bike, go for a swim, dance, garden or basically move your body in a way that feels good to you. But at a baseline you’re doing really well with 20 minutes of walking per day (2 10-minute sessions is also good, but make your bouts of exercise at least 10 minutes long).

Walks are also a great way to get the lactic acid moving the day after good weight-lifting or running session. If you’re a little sore, resist the urge to lie on the couch and get some steps instead.

Today I took a longer walk than usual to the post office and back with some moderate hills. It’s about a half hour each way through a different neighborhood. I came home in such a skippy, happy mood. Bread has never made me feel that good. And I like bread.

Published by Candace

I’m a journalist, nutritionist, doting auntie, one-time bobsledder, and wannabe health nut (who loves chocolate and pizza too much to fully commit). I don't want you to think my life is perfect. It's not.

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