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Walk it Off

metroSPIRIT: Walk to Wellness, Walk for Spirit

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 Summer is a fabulous time to consider adding walking to your list of activities. Build in walking wherever you can. After the long cold winter we experienced this past year, I have developed a renewed love for being outside as much as possible.



There was a time that I considered walking far too slow and somewhat boring. I wanted to run or spin or do high intensity cardio. While I still do high intensity cardio work-outs, I have added walking to my exercise routine, especially in the summer. Through walking, I have improved my overall wellness and built relationships.

Walking has pulled ahead of higher intensity workouts as the way to health.

Recent studies have shown that moderate walking has more overall positive health outcomes than hard core sports. A variety of studies have shown that walking reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. (The studies referred to herein were published by University of Massachusetts and University of Michigan.)

"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk." 

~Raymond Inmon

Walk for Weight Loss

Walking burns calories at about 100 calories per mile for an 180 pound person. You can actually burn more calories at slower speeds. If you are starting and stopping, you don't have momentum and use more energy. At higher speeds, you use more muscle groups.

Walk for Friendship

One of my best friendships developed during a time when my friend and I went to the same church, served on the same committee and saw each other regularly at the activities of our children. When our lives changed, we rarely saw each other. I gave some thought to how I could re-connect with my friend. We live fairly close to each other. I started calling her to see if she would join me for walks during the summer, and those walks have kept us connected.

Another option for walking is to join a hiking club. Several of my friends belong to a hiking club. Check out omahahikingclub.com or simply google "Omaha, Nebraska hiking clubs" for a variety of options.

I have recently returned to the golf course. I golf primarily with friends who prefer to walk the course. We get a great walk, time with friends, and a game of golf to boot.

"Walking takes longer... than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed."

~Edward Abbey, "Walking"

Walk for Causes

When I was still able to run, I ran the Komen Race for The Cure of Breast Cancer every year. The very first year that I ran in that race, I didn't know anyone who had breast cancer. The next year, I had one name on my back. The next year, I had three. Many years later, it is a long list that includes both those that are survivors and some who are not.

The Race for the Cure, and many other such events, have walks as well as runs. There is one for almost every cause. The energy and enthusiasm at such events is contagious and the funds raised help many.

Consider picking one event and making it an annual tradition with family and friends. One of my friends suggested starting such a tradition many years ago. We got several families, and all of our kids, to participate.

I recently googled "walking events omaha nebraska" and found numerous sources identifying walks in the Omaha area. I also found a guide to Omaha's fabulous trail system.

Walk as a Meditation

Often, when people think of meditation, they think of sitting on a cushion in total silence. To some, that is a turn-off. In yoga, we teach that there are many ways to meditate. Walking is one of them.

Personally, I do a better job of meditating while walking. There are all kinds of options. I choose my location based on my mood. It might be a walk around Zorinsky Lake where I focus on simply noticing. I might choose a very busy public place and practice the concept of seeing the essence of the people at the event (as distinguished from their external appearances). Sometimes I drive out of town and find some area I have never explored. Occasionally, I walk through a cemetery. While some see that as morbid, for me, being reminded of the ultimate conclusion to life reminds me to cherish my day.

Plan Your Walks

Set aside some time for your walks. Set a schedule you will keep.

Dress and Equip Yourself for Success

Be sure to have good gear for whatever type of walk you choose. Select shoes that are lightweight, flexible, and the correct size. Choose clothes that are appropriate for the weather conditions. If walking at night, wear a reflective safety vest. Hats are usually a necessity. Consider a pedometer, and always carry a water bottle.

-end- metroMAGAZINE




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