Health

Why We Need to Walk

January 27, 2018 | 17 Comments
Why we need to walk

I’ve just been for a walk. Not a run. And not with a friend either, or to get the kids out of the house. I didn’t even take the dogs. It felt strange at first, only the sound of my footsteps on the tar, and my breath coming in, and then flowing out again.

Since this spasm in my lower back I’ve been trying to take it easy, and it’s been a big lesson for me. I’m geared to ACHIEVE something when I exercise, whether it’s sweating until my shirt is dripping, or running faster than last time, or stretching further than before. I think most of us are. But I’m trying to listen to what my body is telling me and lately it’s been saying PAIN and slow down, so I’ve heeded the advice.

I’ve been doing a lot of stretching. Pilates and yoga. Slow swimming. Gentle walks. After my recent transformation, this has not been easy – as I miss the cardio and the workouts, but I know I’ll be back soon. And so for today, I went for a walk.

Walking is underrated. In our perpetually busy world, we may sneer at the idea of a walk. “But don’t you want to get a workout? What’s the point of a walk?  I don’t have time to go WALKING” (like it’s some sort of flighty indulgence).

My Dad has always been a walker. Wherever we are, whether he’s at home, or out somewhere new on holiday, he’ll get his walking stick and off he’ll go. In rain or shine. He walks fast too, for a 75-year-old guy. I know he does it for physical health reasons and to keep fit, but the knock on positive affect on his mental health and happiness is probably bigger than he knows.

Walking let’s you switch off. Leave your phone at home. Leave your distractions. Notice the magnolia petals like a white and yellow carpet on the pavement. Look at that blackened banana skin someone dropped. See that idyllic corner of the street, where the white walls and the yellow shutters complement the pink petals of the bougainvillea so perfectly.

Listen to the sound of those kids playing soccer on the field, their shrieks of laughter. Here comes the mist, over the mountain and oh, feel that cooling wind on my cheeks. Look at that couple walking their dog and holding hands, like they’ve loved each other for decades. Pass an open window, see people gathered around a table, hear the clink of glasses, the scrape of cutlery on plates, their low voices.

And while your mind is noticing all of these small details, all the worries and minutiae it used to be full of have dissipated, just for a little bit. It is focused, clear and calm inside there.

I’m busy reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and she dedicates a whole chapter to the benefits of walking. She says she came up with some of her best ideas while walking, and that she actually used to schedule walking meetings, instead of ones where people gathered around the boardroom table. “Sit still and our minds want to ramble. Get up and start walking, and our minds can slow down and be more focused,” she says.

And it’s not just her that are fans of walking. Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway and even Nietzsche used to walk and have their best ideas while doing so, according to Thrive. Henry David Thoreau used to walk to “shake off the village”, which is such a wonderful expression to me. Shake off those 43 Whatsapp messages, shake off those emails from your boss asking for things, shake off all the tiny demands that add up to a huge weight in your brain, and just for a moment, be you, in a quiet space, with trees above you – and a big blue sky.

I only walked for 25 minutes today. But I got home with a smile on my face, and suddenly felt “unblocked” creatively and then I sat down and wrote this post. Is a little blog post about walking going to change the world? No. But it’s a clear demonstration of the power of MOVEMENT, and how just a short time away from distractions, and a break from technology, can do wonders for your brain.

Try take a walk this week around your neighbourhood, even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Leave your phone at home. Breathe in, breathe out, and notice things. And tell yourself that sometimes it’s okay not to go fast. In fact, sometimes it’s very good for us to go slow.

Hope you’re all having lovely weekends.

xxx

Why we need to walk

17 Comments

  • Reply Laetitia Corder January 27, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    I love this, Belinda! Silencing the noise or shaking it off is what keeps me sane. I seriously need to do it more often while walking. Thank you for this inspirational post.

  • Reply stephanie videira January 27, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    I love walking just me out in the open, gathering my thoughts and the silence, which i need with a very loud 4 year old and 11 month old baby

    • Reply Belinda Mountain January 28, 2018 at 10:44 am

      it’s so necessary Stephanie – glad it helps you too!

  • Reply Keri January 27, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    I go #WalkingForSanity almost every day! It’s the best x hope you feel better sooon!

  • Reply Beverley Jardine January 29, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Hi B, I totally agree with you. I can so relate to this “I’m geared to ACHIEVE something when I exercise, whether it’s sweating until my shirt is dripping, or running faster than last time” .. my word! For me, it’s not worth it if I haven’t sweated!! But, I too was recently forced to slow down, and so running was out of the question. I decided to go walking. Early mornings are definitely best for me, and I LOVED it! Walking for pleasure was a totally new concept. I would walk listening to an audio book though, personal development stuff, and I felt so inspired and happy after each walk. The trick now though is that I can run again, I’ve stopped walking! Thanks for reminding me about my walking .. it really was so therapeutic!

    • Reply Belinda Mountain January 29, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Ah I hear you! I’m also nearly able to run again but need to remember all the benefits of walking. “Inspired and happy” is a great description…

  • Reply robynrose January 29, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    It is like a mind meditation! Agree, very underrated. Besides the quiet, you also breathe deeply and commune with nature. Bliss. Hope your back starts to get better friend x

  • Reply caleyjaderosenberg January 29, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    LOVE this – and one of my new fun things to do in 2018 is to walk and ‘ve already been 4 times. Scheduling a walk in this week too x

  • Reply hopefulltreasures January 30, 2018 at 11:08 am

    I loved this post. Since moving back to CT in December, and our life looking a lot different work wise, than it did last year, I’ve been thinking of taking time to just walk. Thanks for the inspiration! I’m definitely going to schedule in some walks! Megan xx

  • Reply A New Day has Dawned - Making MountainsMaking Mountains February 20, 2018 at 8:26 am

    […] Cyril’s walks he’s doing every morning with the people of SA? He must agree with my recent post on the benefits of […]

  • Reply Yolandi North August 5, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Love this. I also believe in walking but should do it more often. Thanx for reminder. xxx

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