At the height of the lockdown in the fall of 2020, there wasn’t much any of us were allowed to do. No gyms, bars, restaurants nor theatres. No parties, museums, family gatherings nor coffee dates with friends. The mental pressures of the pandemic was amplified by the lack of options for movement, and I needed a safe outlet for some time on my own. Who knew a head-clearing daily walk would be the catalyst for a whole new way to live?
April 6 is National Walking Day, and I’m celebrating with a look back over a year of taking steps towards a whole new me.
The benefits of my daily walk–going for a long one
My first intentional long walk was a 14km cross-town mission that I dared myself to try. I was so exhilarated by the achievement that I started to consciously map more routes and set more goals.
Since that day, I’ve walked a total of almost 5,000 kilometres—an achievement that truly blows my mind!
It should be known that I’m not an athlete. Like lots of folks, I’ve had a rough time getting consistent with any kind of exercise in my life. While my clicks are astounding, the power of this practice for me has been in its consistency above all. I walk most days, in all weather, making space and time for intentional rest, and always delighting in the discoveries along the way.
Why walking is the best fitness and best workout for me
When I set out on this unexpected journey, I was new to a fitness routine but also to a conscious goal-setting mindset. The more I learned about it and applied it in my life, the faster things started to expand and align for me. If I walked five kilometres, I’d set a target to try 10 kilometres. When I walked a few times a week, I set a goal to walk every day. I mapped new routes to see our beautiful city in new ways and marveled at the new perspectives it gave me of this town I’d always lived in.
Galvanizing the commitment, I set up accountability partnerships with friends. Together, we’ve reached for tougher targets and, step by step, we’ve exceeded our goals and our expectations. I can honestly say I would have quit the daily walk a hundred times if it wasn’t for my co-walkers. We get into some deep conversations on these walks, too, complete with tears and laughter; lighting the way for each other’s wellness and growth.
Our daily walk has inspired and enabled us to truly soar as individuals and as friends. On the phone and in person, my co-walkers have become my personal “Board of Trustees,” and I’m forever grateful to be on the path with each and every one of them.
Our “Walk & Talks” have become the mainstay of my social life—something I’ll happily continue even now that things are opening up. The quality of connection and conversation you can have while facing in the same direction and moving through the world with another person is truly amazing. As we return to the workplace, I hope walk-and-talk meetings will be in the mix as well.
How a daily walk made me healthier, too
I’ve gained mental and physical strength, clarity and stamina. I sleep better and have clearer dreams. I read more, scroll less and retain information better. I’ve lost weight and gained perspective. A daily walk has inspired balance in my life: in every sense of the word.
On this road, I’ve vastly improved my wellness in innumerable ways. Seeking alignment with this committed practice, I decided in December 2020 to give Dry January a try.
A life without alcohol was so much more in line with the mindset and growth work I was immersed in, and it admittedly scared me a little. Amazingly, I’ve stuck with it ever since. Fourteen months alcohol free is further evidence of the ways in which my life has been utterly transformed through this simple human practice.
Sure, there are tougher days than others, and no I don’t always feel like heading out. But I’ve learned that it’s not as hard as I thought it was.
For most people, walking is a low risk, easy access activity that we were literally born to do. The investment of effort—taking a short walk as regularly as possible —pays off in countless ways.
One foot in front of the other, bringing a calmer mind, sturdier bones and joints, improving digestion, reducing stress, lowering cholesterol, toning muscles, building resilience, fostering connection and sparking discovery. A life changed by a daily walk, step by step by step.
Walk on! @walkswithcat