The Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Benefits of Walking

Being an Aquarian with five other planets in air, I’m continually challenged by the persistent desire to fly wherever I want to go.  Of course not in the literal flying sense, but in the metaphorical craving to get where I’m going as fast as I can.  It’s a daily test actually for me to stay in my body and be on the ground.  I believe this is partly why I had so many physical health issues from a young age; a reminder that I need to consciously pay attention to and be in my body.

Throughout the years, I’ve been encouraged by every heath care professional I’ve ever come in contact with, to walk.  I can only imagine the expression on my face, (it must have been priceless), when told this simple offering:  Start walking.  Could there ever be a slower possible way to get where I wanted to go?  However, after many years and many tries by many people, I finally agreed to put one foot in front of another, and start my walking practice.

It’s widely known that walking is the most natural and healthy of exercises.  In many ways the perfect exercise.  We virtually all learn to do it as little children.  It’s our first ticket to freedom, our initial experience of moving forward in life without obstacles or the help of another.  Although I was flying from birth, I found my earthly freedom at nine months, when I started walking.

On a physical level, walking has enormous benefits.  It strengthens the heart.  It helps the lungs operate more efficiently.  It strengthens the digestive system.  Walking boosts the immune system and enhances the nervous system and cognitive function.  Walking also helps your circulatory system and helps to maintain bone density.  It is an ideal non stressful way to help manage weight.  And new research confirms that it is important to keep moving and that walking can even help balance blood sugar as well. The positive physical benefits of walking often have experts referring to it as the overall best exercise of all!

Of course, I’m not referring to the kind of walking you do by parking at the outskirts of the mall and walking to the entrance.  Or walking around your house or up and down stairs.  I’ve discovered that walking in a purposeful and conscious way is the walking that has the most magical of all benefits, because it connects you to a higher spiritual place; a source of unlimited possibilities.

But walking needs to be your only activity where you stay present with each step.  For me, this kind of walking has become a direct line to my source of creativity.  This article was in fact birthed on a walk and often the ideas are flowing so quickly I admit, I can’t wait to get home to write them down.  But I stay the course and continue to walk.  Most of the time.

Walking connects me to the glorious world of nature, which I believe we often lose touch with in our hectic day-to-day lives.  Although people choose to walk indoors, whether on gym tracks or on mall floors, I highly recommend getting outside, where the opportunity to reconnect with nature abounds.

It offers a totally different and unique experience. No matter where you live, there is some small space, a park, a trail or a route you can find that hasn’t succumbed to the fate of Joni Mitchell’s observant words: “they paved paradise to put up a parking lot.”

Daytime walking is great, especially in the early morning as a way to start your day, but a walk at night before bed is also a wonderful way to wind down before you go to sleep.  Your dreams might even be different too.

I personally like walking solo, as I can set my pace and spend time with myself.  As I watch other people in groups or walking their dogs, I acknowledge the social aspect of walking as well.

When I began walking, it was the middle of January in our often dreary and harsh Toronto winter, but I somehow kept going.  Everything about me changed.  My body, as I started toning from the daily practice, but more than that, my perspective changed.  I felt it was my opportunity to commune with nature. Nature always prevails regardless of  the weather or the season.  A great lesson we are offered from mother nature, if we care to observe it.

In our modern stress filled lives, where we seem to be moving faster and faster with more to do and less time to do it, walking allows you the opportunity to slow down and be aligned, a chance to breathe and relax.  Walking from a place of relaxed intention is a freeing practice.  It is a way to bring your mind, body and spirit into balance.  Walk this way and your senses are enlivened.  Colours seem more brilliant.  The smells and sounds become more alive.  I hear the birds song and some days I believe they recognize me and are singing their song to me, inviting me to fly with them. The leaves on the trees are dancing in the breeze and I have a sense of freedom, of being in touch, in harmony with some cosmic orchestra.

Walking as a practice does require commitment, with a clear sense of intention, consistency, focus and awareness.  There are numerous books and articles on walking and  how to do it in a mindful or meditative way.  But as everything in life, it is ultimately about the doing.  Engaging in the activity and being committed to it regardless of the reasons that invite you not to.

So now I walk.  I breathe in and take in the world.  I exhale and let go of any stress I might be carrying.  As I finish writing, I notice an abundant cloud filled sky and gentle breeze and am looking forward to stepping out into the fresh afternoon air which has been calling me to get outside and walk!  And these days I listen, because walking has changed my life.

Love to hear about any insights, epiphanies or even solutions to problems that surfaced while walking.

Visit me at:  www.beverleygolden.com    Follow me on Twitter:  @goldenbeverley

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photo by: mugley
Beverley Golden

About Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, raconteur and song creator who has written everything from song lyrics to magazine articles. She enjoys researching, designing and building stories and loves stimulating ideas and inspiring conversations. Beverley is the author of Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, her first full length book; a memoir combining her anecdotal stories taken from her years in the entertainment industry, coupled with her stories of survival, from a lifetime lived with health issues. She has lived her life as a “self-professed guinea pig” willing to find and test unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health care, storytelling and world peace. She continues to take what she is told is impossible and transform it into possible.   You can currently find her writing at the Huffington Post among others.   Reach her at:   info@beverleygolden.com www.beverleygolden.com. Or follow her on Twitter: @goldenbeverley  

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Comments

  1. Madeline Rageas says:

    Hi Beverley,

    I wanted to say how much I enjoy your articles. They are so inspirational, down-to-earth, warm, and full of interesting insights.

    be well,
    Madeline

    1. Thanks so much Madeline. It is great to have you reading my articles and I appreciate that you are enjoying the content and finding it interesting and inspirational. All the best.

  2. Valdez Lasartemay says:

    Thanks Beverly I think walking is a great therapy the benefits are plenty and I can’t think of a more convenient form of exercise.

    1. Thanks Val. Nice to see you here and I appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.

      Although it took me a long time to get it, I see how wonderful and convenient walking is and the benefits, as you mentioned are very therapeutic!

  3. Jessica says:

    Great article! Walking helped me process the various stages of grief after my mother died a few years ago. Now, it’s a source of happiness for me especially as the sun sets creating such a gorgeous outdoor piece of art. It’s also a good reminder that the world keeps on going and so do we regardless of our ups and downs.

    1. That’s a lovely picture Jessica! I don’t often walk at night, so you gave me a great idea, to go out and see how nature is an ever changing piece of art at all times of the day.

      Thanks for reading and sharing. Much appreciated.

  4. Lynn Gardner says:

    I recently moved across country. I need to lose weight, so I decided to give walking a try as I worked through the initial shock of leaving my friends and home for a new adventure. I have two dogs and the exercise is good for them, too. At first, I struggled. I might only walk 2 or 3 times a week and often only around the block. It was tough at first, because I’m out of shape.

    Now, after 2 months, I am walking a mile every evening and it’s about become habit. Best news: I am not as winded as I was when I started. I believe in a couple more weeks, I can add distance. Being able to push myself this way and enjoy it is invigorating and inspiring. I’m encouraged!

  5. Thats a great testament to the power of walking, Lynn.

    Congrats on sticking with it and I’m happy to hear that by pushing yourself through the challenges, you actually found how inspiring and rewarding it feels. Happy to hear the dogs are enjoying the activity with you too!

    Appreciate you reading the piece and sharing. Continued best of luck with this.