Walking is touted as good for our health, our emotional well-being and our social connections. I want to give you 5 more reasons.
Walking doesn’t make you younger in years, but it allows you to have experiences where you forget your age. When you walk, you engage all your senses, and the world around you will trigger your brain to send you messages of aliveness, enjoyment and gratefulness.
Do you experience aliveness when you’re sitting in your chair watching a movie? I don’t think so. Passive entertainment takes you out of your current reality for a while, which can be pleasant, but it doesn’t enhance your aliveness.
Walking and hiking will slow aging. I have found that my bone density has increased over the last four years of hiking long distances on the trails, a reverse of the natural aging process.
Walking in nature stimulates brain cells and burns cortisol, the stress hormone, leaving your body more agile and flexible. There is evidence that walking and hiking, especially longer trail hikes, cause an increased activity of telomerase, triggering an anti-aging process in your cells.
Walking is a gift to the planet and yourself. Every step you take squashes your DNA and stimulates your cells to rebuild themselves, adding new healthy cells to your body, sloughing off the old ones.
While you’re rebuilding your body on your walk, you’re reducing your carbon footprint by not driving a car or using another energy-sucking form of transportation. While you walk, your breath does a photosynthesis dance with the surrounding plants. What a miracle to be alive!
As you enter a walking life, you’ll feel better, sleep better and your mood will improve. You will discover a self you may have forgotten existed! It takes consistent walking to experience this. So, make walking a lifestyle.
Reduce your sitting hours and increase your walking hours while doing errands. Go for a walk-and-talk with a friend. Walk to a dinner you’ve been invited to. Wear your walking shoes to the theater while carrying your dress shoes in your bag.
Walking is addictive. Once you increase your walking distances and feel better about yourself and your body, you may think about going for a day hike or even a backpacking trip. If you don’t want to carry a heavy backpack, you can take hiking vacations where you use pack animals to carry your load.
Or you can walk or hike from B&B to B&B, hut to hut, or lodge to lodge. Europe offers many such opportunities at a very reasonable cost.
In the USA, you may have to look around to find lodge-to-lodge hikes, but they do exist. Many developing countries offer trekking trips with pack animals. A walking vacation will give you a re-boot.
My book, Walking Gone Wild, takes you on a journey to a walking lifestyle. The book is full of stories of women 50-plus who have been able to reinvigorate their life through walking.
It offers practical tips on how to overcome obstacles and find the right shoes and clothes to make walking a year-round activity you can enjoy.
Do you love to walk? What has been the greatest benefit of adopting a walking lifestyle? Please share your insights below.
Tags Healthy Aging
Hi Dami, you paint an inspiring picture of striding the trails for us 50 and 60-plus women! But I wonder how many of your readers have obstacles in the form of damaged knees/joints that make this just wishful thinking? I am one of these women; I would like nothing better than to take off on day-long walks with or without my dog. But 30 to 40 minutes is the most my knee replacement will permit. So some of us have to think of alternative forms of transport and settle for just getting around to do our daily chores. Maybe in my next life!