When I was a teenager, I took up running with my mom. She told all the kids that whoever would train to run a marathon, she would take to Montreal in the fall to run a race. Having not done much physical in my life and desiring to spend more time with my mother, I took her up on the offer.
It's been 33 years since that time. I did run and complete the Montreal Marathon, but I've not run another race since. The conclusion was that I really don't like to run.
But at the age of forty-six I lost fifty pounds. I didn't do it by standing still. I owe it all to putting one foot in front of the other. That's right, walking.
Let's face it. There's not much to putting some shoes on, stepping out the front door, and hoofing it. Even if you are not accustomed to walking for anything more than getting from one end of the house to the other, I've discovered there is so much to enjoy!
There is great benefit to living in a place where the climate allows for outdoors walking for the greater part of the year. Northern Colorado is a beautiful place to be and there is no shortage of sidewalks, bike paths, hiking trails and streets. Since we have the Rocky Mountain front range as a backdrop to many walks, there is always something to look at.
I try to do my walks first thing in the morning, but I will modify if the weather is not optimal for the day. I strap my iPhone to my belt loop, start the pedometer app and off I go.
I try to do a minimum of one hour each day. But some days I feel like I have more energy and I'll walk up to two hours.
I find that it is a great opportunity to do a whole person workout.
Phsyically, the case can be made that walking is better than running. Regardless, I usually walk at a 4 mph pace. That does a good job of getting my heart rate up and burning calories.
Emotionally, it's a documented fact that exercise releases endorphins in the brain. There is something cleansing for the soul that gets out and about. If you are suffering from depression, moving your body is one of the healthiest things you can do to change the way you view your circumstances. Doesn't it reason that it would be just as healthy as a maintenance goal?
Spiritually, I find that walking is a great time to connect with God. Whether it is by praying as I walk or listening to some teaching, I can engage my inner man as I take another step.
Sometimes I'll listen to music. Other times I won't listen to anything. Many times I walk alone. Other times I am joined by a family member with me. And there's an ancillary benefit... building relationships with others while staying fit!
No matter where I go, I take my walking shoes with me. After all, my legs and feet go where I go, so why shouldn't I be equipped to put them to work?
When I travel, I enjoy finding local walking paths or hiking trails. My pedometer app uses the GPS feature to map where I have walked, so I can always look back at my journey and see a physical representation of where I went.
It's true that sometimes walking becomes hiking. I do enjoy visiting places where I can get away from traffic and enjoy nature. Some of my favorite hikes have included the Giant Redwoods in coaster california, the desert mountains of Arizona and the front range of the Rockies. A little uphill climb is good for the heart and it offers wonderful panoramic views of creation.
A few weeks back I visited Las Vegas with my brother. We walked from the New York, New York Hotel all the way to Fremont Street. On the way we passed the pawn shop where Pawn Stars is filmed, along with a number of world-famous chapels where celebrities have married. There's always something to see when you visit somewhere new. I find it interesting and exciting to site see on foot rather than from the back seat of a cab or tourbus.
So how much walking do I do? My pedometer app doesn't work well on treadmills, and I have missed using it a few days this past year. However, according to the statistics reported by the app, I have walked over 1054 miles in the past 360 days. On those walks I've burned over 103,000 calories.
Which leads to my final reason for my daily walks.
I get to enjoy more of the foods that got me in trouble before.
As I was losing weight, I stayed away from all friend foods and rarely had deserts. Now that I am at a maintenance level, I can have a piece of pie, a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings or a waffle with syrup, and not feel like I am going to blow up to 225 pounds again.
I still try to watch my portions, but the daily discipline of walking has allowed me to enjoy more of what I like.
Some people prefer other kinds of workouts. Whatever works for you is what you need to do. As for me, I'm lacing up my shows and hitting the pavement. There's a whole world out there waiting for me to set foot on it.
Do you walk for fitness or do you enjoy some other activity? I welcome your comments and questions below.