October 8, 2008

For me, walking is life. When I’m stressed, overwhelmed, or upset, my treatment of choice is to go out for a long walk. It clears the head and is very relaxing. It is fantastic for the health of your body. The great outdoors also provides wonderful things to see: between the trees and houses and movements of daily life, it’s difficult to get bored of the sights!

But one of the best parts about walking is the people you encounter. I am sure that my life would be far more dull if it didn’t involve as much walking as I do. There was the time that I passed by a little boy playing “Hot Cross Buns” on his recorder, and his little sister sitting beside him holding up a sign that read “Chang” (and how cute is a little kid who can’t spell!). Then there’s the conversations I’ve had with total strangers- the guy who cheerfully walked with me into a store and wanted to buy me a stuffed zebra statue, the old man who passed by me and noted that I was late for work (he must have seen me walk past his house every day), the girl who stopped me to ask where I had found my jacket because she had just bought boots that would go great with it, and the more recent occasion when a man started telling me all about his current situation in life. (He’s been a carpenter for years but decided to go back to school, get his education degree, and become a teacher. Then he asked me what I do and became very enthused about my studies before going off in his own direction).

You can also have chance encounters with people you already know. Lately I have been running into some of my high school teachers while out and about, whom I haven’t seen in a long time. And yesterday I happened upon the (now ex) boyfriend- I hadn’t really seen or spoken to him all that much since Italy, so it was very nice to catch up!

Talking with the little kids at their patrol stations is always enjoyable, as are conversations with the homeless people who live around my area and dog walkers out for a stroll. It’s so interesting to speak with people with completely different backgrounds and different lifestyles from your own. You learn something new, socialize a bit, expand your own knowledge and understanding of the world, relax your body and clear your mind so it’s ready to get back to work, and have strange stories to relate to others all at the same time that you’re exercising! All for the price of some decent shoes. I can’t think of a better way to spend the time.

Does walking work for you? Or is there another exercise that you enjoy which you think might be even more beneficial to your overall health?



  1. I love walking too!

    I like to potter round on my own with my iPod on absorbing the scenery, so I don’t talk to people much (mind you, living in a city nobody is interested in talking, they just think you’re going to mug ’em!). I suspect you must appear very approachable, Sagan!

    I think walking can be sociable too though. I occasionally drag my boyfriend out to the country for a walk and we always end up having such great talks. Take away the TV and you have to make conversation! I’m going on a walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales at the end of the month with my friends, I’m so excited!

    TA x

  2. There isn’t really a good way to walk in my area (no paths or anything), and I’m not a fan of car exhaust (busy roads).

    For me, Yoga’s great. You can get an inexpensive mat and DVD, and you’re all set. You can work on strength (a little), flexibility, and relaxation.

  3. I like to go for walks or a nice, easy run! Something about a “runners high” that helps bring positive thoughts into my mind. Thank you for sharing…nice post!!

  4. Yeah, walking is very primal. I’ve explored lots of places. Even at work, when I have some free time, I just walk around the hospital.

  5. I love to walk. It is the one exercise I know I will do on a regular basis. On occasion, someone will strike up a conversation with me. For the most part, I’ve got my iPod on so I’m not that approachable. Have a Great week!

  6. Thank you for reminding me of my love for simply walking. It has such a calming, peaceful impact on me- but lately I feel every time I go outside it needs to be a run! Thanks for the beautiful post!

  7. Ive been beating my head against the proverbial wall thinking I “SHOULD” run—-and you know I really may just be a walker at heart and that’s ok.

  8. Oh you know me… walking is my favorite form of exercise. It feeds my body and soul.

  9. TA- I really like that walking can be a totally personal activity (just tuning into music and all), or really sociable with going out with people. I am SO jealous that you’re going on that walking holiday! It sounds fantastic. You’ll have to tell us all loads about it.

    Tricia- Yoga is great too. I’ve just been getting back into pilates recently and it’s so nice. Also exceptionally good for when it gets too freezing outside to want to venture out for a walk:)

    Mark- runners high is the best. Had it this morning when I was running with my boot camp instructor; the time flew by and I felt great!

    Dr. J- Exploring anywhere is tons of fun. It’s surprising how much you can find out about places like hospitals once you start wandering around, isn’t it? Even if you’ve been working there for years, there’s going to be something you hadn’t yet discovered.

    Dadivastreet- Walking is good when you’re not in the mood for any other exercise because its so low impact. Happy walking:)

    Ashley- sometimes its good to slow down for a little while! Keeps you on track and more willing to go for those runs too. Then again, you’re much more of a runner than I am!

    MizFit- I felt guilty for a while when I stopped running regularly, but I don’t anymore. Because I AM a walker at heart. It’s good to figure those things out:)

    Big Girl- Sharing the walking love! It has just the same effect for me, too.

  10. i LOVE walking! especially outside. you know why? because its EASY. and you can do it anywhere. and can take the pooch with me, so its like killing two birds with one stone. and if you walk in one direction, you have to walk back- you cant just hop off the treadmill.

    Kelly Turner

  11. Right you are! The hospital is a big place. Sometimes I even walk the fire-escapes! We are talking 14 floors, the view is fab! I don’t do the morgue on an elective basis, however ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I’m a runner, personally. I do have many of those same experiences though, while I’m chugging along. I frequently see the same people at the same time, notice drivers going home from work, and those sorts of things. I don’t really get into conversations, but my iPod and I spend quality time together enjoying the outdoors and reducing the stress!

  13. Great post! I’m all about the walking!! I only wish I lived in a more pedestrian friendly place. The ‘burbs are totally designed for cars. Sigh. But Europe! Maybe that is what I miss most about Europe:)

  14. I am a huge-huge walking fan — especially in this current weather. I will literally walk a mile to catch the Metro in the morning, another mile on the way home, and then go out for a 5-mile walk in the evening. I’ve been loving it!

  15. Kelly- getting 2 tasks completed at the same time is so very useful. And whenever I’m on the treadmill, after a while I get bored and wander off (hopefully AFTER turning the machine off…), so walking is very good for forcing you to keep going until you reach the destination!

    Gena- running is much the same! You still get that wonderful exhilaration and see all kinds of interesting things.

    Charlotte- I LOVE that about Europe. I wish that there were more walking paths… we need the world to become more pedestrian-friendly:)

    Zandria- When the weathers good it makes it that much better! I’m hoping the winter doesn’t get TOO too cold so that I can keep walking to and from work every day.

  16. I love walking! Living in a new city and country has brought me a whole new appreciation to such a simple action. Now that I’m getting more comfortable with the foreign language it is also becoming a social activity but before it was simply an exploration. Each outing brought more new places and things. I had time to think through my personal worries and concerns and become at peace with the changes. Yes, I put them on myself, but that didn’t always make them easier. This was yet another wonderful post, Sagan, I think I might just take a step outside right now :).

  17. Walking does work for me. But sometimes I run or bike as well. The thing about walking – and that you brought up – it that it is much more social. And that is very good sometimes. My wife and I go on regular walks (well we did – now it’s dark and cold when I see her) – and this is a great time for us to re-connect.

  18. I have great open trails close to house in Colorado Springs. You can’t quiet, natural settings calm the nerves

  19. I walk the Malaysian old fogey walk – with swaying arms. Lol. I used to run competitively in school, but busted my knee so I tend to baby it. I like yoga, but I really want to do more meditating and less Hatha.

    You must have an amazingly friendly face ๐Ÿ™‚ No one evers talks to me, when I’m about.

  20. Walking is my favourite form of exercise! I generally don’t run into any people on my walks around the pasture, but it certainly invigorates and calms me at the same time.
    Great post, Sagan!

  21. I love walking, too..even though it’s pretty warm here it is still fun to get out there and clear your head. I don’t get all the nice people, though. Down here it’s considered a good walk if you can get people to return your smile.

  22. Danielle- when I was living in Barcelona my favourite thing to do was just explore the city. Loveloveloved it. You must be having all kinds of fun and amazing adventures on your travels!

    Lance- it’s really nice for that re-connectivity. Somehow people seem more willing to open up when they’re out walking, too, as opposed to sitting indoors in front of the tv.

    James- those trails must be fantastic! I wish I had some good ones right near my place:)

    Dee- hehe. Gotta get the full body moving with those swaying arms! That must have been really exciting to have run competitively for a while there.

    Bag Lady- I can only imagine all of the splendid things you must see on your walks! It’s a good thing you’ve got your camera to show us how it all looks:)

    Crystal- oh but you do know the trick of smiling at people ESPECIALLY when they seem stand-offish or rude, right? They always look so confused and uncomfortable. Hehe. People should spread the smiles more!

  23. Walking is great! I am fortunate to live in an area that is very good for walking. When I was training last year for the two day Avon Breast Cancer I met the nicest and most unusual folks! And there is nothing like walking in downtown D.C. – you see so many sights you miss when you just fly by in a car.

  24. Walking is always nice, I especially enjoy it after dinner, first to walk off the meal but also to clear the head before relaxing for the evening. During the day I like to ride my bike, but because of my back injury a year ago I can only ride it while standing. Luckily this is actually a LESS efficient way to ride so it’s a much better workout and it moves a lot faster that way. By the time I get to my destination (usually class), I’ve got an incredible rush of endorphins and I feel clear and ready for the day.

  25. I love walking for similar reasons. It really helps when I need to think things over, or clear my head. It feels therapeutic. And for me, even the treadmill works; it seems to be something about the physical action of walking.

    There are other activities I enjoy, but walking is definitely a go-to workout for me.


  26. Missicat- that’s wonderful that you trained for that and did it! There would be so many interesting people to meet at such an event.

    Nick- sometimes its useful to have a less-efficient way of getting somewhere:) Hope your back isn’t too painful!

    Javachick- I’ve been known to pace around the house when I don’t want to go outside but still want to walk. Pacing is the poor mans version of the treadmill:)

  27. not until this summer…but as you know, I hurt my neck and walking was all I could do and now, I LOVE it. Today is gonna be a gorgeous day – low 70s and sunny in chitown – and I can’t wait to go for a looong walk. Like, 2 hours.
    PS If I may, I wanna share a feel-good walking-related story with you…


  28. Leslie- those really long walks are fantastic. And I’ve actually read that story already- it’s so sweet! I love it.

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