Why Walk?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops friends walking with dog in the woods.There are always a hundred reasons not to go walking. It’s too cold. It’s muddy. There’s too much else to do, you just walked yesterday…. But to deal with depression, grief, or stress, you should make walking a regular part of your life.

If you Google “why I should walk,” you will find that walking is good for your heart and your bones. It helps chronic back pain, reduces anxiety, improves your sleep, connects one to nature, gives back a sense of control, fuels creativity…. Walking helps you heal.

You can hike on mountains or hills, in forests, along coasts. You can stroll in crowded city streets or suburban shopping malls. Walk in hallways with walkers or wheelchairs. Walk and talk. Saunter in silence. Walk with friends, with a dog, or alone with your thoughts. Or with the memory of the one you love who walks no longer. You can walk away from troubles or walk with them. Sometimes you’ll find solutions or walk your way into being at peace with your pain.

My main walking companion is my inherited dog. Saturday, the path we followed up a hill was covered with decaying leaves. We watched chipmunks dart in and out of the hollows of dead trees. We passed a small tree growing from a crack in a rock. Geese honked over us. In another month the trilliums would start to bloom, followed by tender trout lilies, and then the mayapples with leaves like umbrellas for rabbits.

It wasn’t much of a hill. But sweating and out of breath, I looked back down at where we’d started climbing. Signs of birth, life, and death were everywhere. The circle of life. Right there in the woods. And on the top of that hill, under the sky, I felt blessed, big and small, and part of it all, at once.

 

What kind of walking or exercise do you do? What brings you out into nature?

 

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8 thoughts on “Why Walk?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    You know I get this one, Robin. It took me a while to get here because of my trip, but I’m glad I didn’t skip this beauty. I look forward to sharing your wisdom and reflections. Yes, walking heals, but you make me want to go outside right now–in the wind, the occasional snow flurries, and the cold. Once I’m out there, signs of life are everywhere. Yesterday I found tiny lupine leaves emerging where I’d planted seeds early last season. They love living here, and the lousier the soil, the happier they are.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s such an exciting time to be walking, Elaine, don’t you think? I haven’t found the wildflowers yet but there are daffodils in my yard. It must be awesome to watch the seeds you planted yourself start to grow. I’ve only planted small whole plants so I can only imagine its being related to birthing. Walking in the midst of all this growth and change makes me cry sometimes. A good cry. Well, most crying is good anyway. But to walk in the woods and watch the scene kaleidoscoped through tears is so – healing.

      Reply
  2. Kim Kluxen Meredith

    Thank you Robin for this lovely piece. Walking is my nature aerobics. I can do it with ease and in any outfit. I prefer to walk alone along a shoreline and listen to the ocean. It cleanses my soul and reminds me how small I am in the world. It prompts me to make my presence matter.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      You are so lucky to have a shore to walk along. I miss the ocean. It’s what I escape to when I can. It sure does remind one of their smallness in the world.

      Reply
  3. Monica

    Lately is the birdsong that draws me out. So many species are migrating right now so we’re hearing unusual bird sounds. I imagine they rest here a bit before continuing north. And I like to imagine some will sing to my northern family when they arrive there.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I love the sound of returning geese this time of the year. Or any time actually. It’s like crying and laughing at once. I stop whatever I’m doing and look to the skies when they fly over. You can hear them for a long time before you can see them. It’s like watching a parade in the sky. Cheers, Monica.

      Reply
  4. Lucy Bergstrom

    Thanks for this push to get out there and walk every day. It’s true that the picture is bigger out there, it’s not about you or me, but we’re a part of it just by breathing in it and thinking our thoughts, among the chipmunks.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I’m glad to hear that the bigger picture includes chipmunks, even in Denmark. When I see a chipmunk on my next walk, I’ll be thinking about you, Lucy.

      Reply

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