A walk as exercise? Nah. Walking is too enjoyable to be a viable way to burn calories. Or was I wrong?
These were my thoughts on walking quite a while back when I was convinced that running was the only way to “feel the burn”. Having been on the track team in college, I was absolutely certain that if I didn’t love to run, something must be wrong with me. Aerobic exercise must be something I will never enjoy.
Fortunately, I came to my senses, and finally began to accept the I could walk for exercise especially after reading Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat. Guiliano continually reiterates the benefits of walking throughout her book. “A walk not only uses calories, it can be wonderfully meditative, clearing your head . . .”
For the last five years, I have included walking in my exercise regime, along with strength training and occasionally pilates (I need to do more, but I can’t find a pilates class in the area) and most recently completed the Portland Marathon registered as a walker. And I have no doubt in my mind that walking 26.2 miles burned just as many calories as running 26.2 miles, only we were on the course a bit longer.
I do realize that many people find pleasure and tranquility in running, but I have never been one. I personally admire anyone who does run long distances. It is truly impressive and shows absolute perseverance and determination, but for me, I’ll stick to walking.
On that thought, there are many wonderful reasons to take a walk whether it be for exercise or for the pleasure of simply stretching your legs, chatting with a friend or clearing your head. Below are a few enjoyable reasons to include a walk in your calendar at some point during this week.
1. Clear Your Head
“ . . . walking remains the ultimate time for freedom of thought. It’s when I feel my tensions liberated . . . as the promenade of the mind follows that of the body.” –Mireille Guiliano
Had a stressful day, week or event? Get outside. Let your body take in the fresh air and release some of your built up negative energy. While the walk itself won’t solve the problems, it will allow some distance from them. Often times this separation allows you to calm down and think things through with a clear mind.
2. Always At The Ready
Unlike many outdoor activities that rely on the weather to cooperate, walking can be done in the rain (throw on your wellies), in the snow (don a warm scarf), or during the warmth of summer (don’t forget your sunscreen!) The luxury of knowing that a walk can take place at anytime, anywhere is calming in itself. By taking a walk, you’re often forced to slow down, ponder and take in the reality that is around you whether it be a city street or the beauty of nature.
“It can be a special kind of indulgence, these moments when one becomes aware of really existing, as the images, information, and the other sensations the world tries to press upon us all recede. Learning to be comfortable in that space, when it is just you, takes practice. But doing so diminishes the impulse to lie to yourself or run away. You won’t want to.” –Mireille Guiliano
3. Chat With A Friend
Something I thoroughly enjoy doing with my closest girlfriends, and mother as well, is walking with them. Despite our busy schedules, locale or time of day, we can always find time to walk, which ultimately is an excuse to chat. But by walking, there’s an added benefit – two therapies in one!
4. See the Sights
Walking is walking no matter where it takes place, so why not take a tour of that museum or Japanese Garden you’ve been curious about? While visiting France, we went on a tour of the many chateaus in the Loire Valley (one of the largest – Chateau Chambord), as well as making our way up to Normandy to see the nearby St. Mont Michele, and believe me, we walked our lovely little legs off. Walking really allows you to do two things at once, take in sights and burn a few calories, or enjoy someone’s company and burn calories, or as you will see next, one of my all time favorites, window shop and burn a few calories!
5. Retail Therapy
On of the most well-know shopping locations in Paris, Avenue Montaigne & Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the eighth arrondissement, is lined with some of the most well-known fashion designers. Here you will find Christian Dior, Chanel, Max Mara, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Céline, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Gucci and Versace.
And since I’m enthralled with Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (I finally watch Coco Avant Chanel last night), I had to include her store front in Paris. Some day!
Shopping is a sport in and of itself. And while the exhaustion at the end of such a day is somewhat emotional, it is also very physically exhausting due to what else? All of the walking from one fabulous store to the next.
While I’m sure many of you already use this excuse, never be afraid to say you’re embarking on your exercise routine as you swiftly grab your keys, your wallet, all the while dressed in comfortable, yet stylish ballet flats and a fantastic outfit. No questions need to be asked.
6. Find Time To Dream
Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
I couldn’t agree more. Since walking does allow me to clear my head, I’m able to discover things lost in my subconscious and bring them to the forefront of my to do list. All of those things you want to do, that you dream to do, – I’ll bet you’ll be able to find them on a nice leisurely stroll.
7. Make A Dog’s Day
Sometimes walking by yourself can be daunting if you’ve never done it, but if you’re walking your dog, your neighbor’s dog or your friend’s dog, you’re never really alone. Besides, you’re making the day of the pooch at the end of the leash. Trust me. If any of you have been following my tweets, some of the greatest smiles I get are from walks I have with my dogs. Their happiness is infectious.
“On weekdays during my first two student years in Paris, I used to walk between the Eiffel Tower and the Sorbonne, a different route going and coming. On the weekends, my roommate and I, both provincial girls discovering Paris with very wide eyes, would spend Saturdays walking six to eight miles, stopping only for lunch and a five o’clock ice cream – that little weekly reward.” -Mireille Guiliano
And one of the benefits of engaging in a walk is the treat at the end of the journey –a reward of sorts. Whether it be sitting in one of the many les jardins in Paris or stopping by your favorite coffee shop, take a moment and savor what your eyes, ears and mind have been engaged in during your luxurious walk.
Out of curiosity what are some other ways in which you incorporate walking into your life? I look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful Wednesday.