I have never been athletic. Minus a short stint in competitive swimming when I was very young, and a slightly longer gymnastics phase, I have been resistant to sports for as long as I can remember. I was literally terrified of P.E., because I hated organized sports that much. It is still all I can do to watch a sporting event… live or televised.
Even in spite of my strong, lifelong aversion to sports (which my sister and mother share, by the way), I was very active during my childhood years. My mom encouraged Avery and me to play outside, and she and my dad played with us. Most of my memories from growing up are set outside actually. We rode our bikes or walked constantly. And I think it is important to emphasize that my mom did it with us most of the time. She showed us how to be active. We learned that going for a walk also meant time spent with her, and with my dad when he was home. That was valuable.
I put on a few pounds in high school, so my mom signed me up for a Curves membership, which I used pretty faithfully. I noticed small results, and felt better about myself afterward, but hated making myself go. And if you truly hate something, it is a pretty safe bet to say that you will not be incorporating it into your life for the long-term. And the goal is to make lifelong changes that benefit my health and the health of my family. So Curves was out. But Curves, along with walking A LOT (again, thanks to a mom who asked me to go on walks with her) helped me shed the extra pounds I had picked up in high school.
I put on a few more pounds (again)
my first two years in college. Since I did not have my mom around to encourage me to walk with her, I became more diligent on my own. My junior year of college I walked every morning and every evening. If I missed a morning walk, I made sure to fit it in in the evening. If I missed an evening walk, I made sure not to miss it again the next day. Walking, combined with more mindful eating, helped me shed those extra pounds.
After college, my mom started inviting me to her yoga classes. They were incredibly helpful, and I am so glad that she enabled me to be able to go, learn, and have the experience. But here is the thing: the average yoga class is about $15 PER CLASS. Due to our recent change in finances, I do not feel that it is good stewardship of what little money we do have to spend it on yoga classes when walking is free! (And I do still do yoga in our bedroom floor from time to time… that is free also.)
It has been two and a half years since I graduated from college, and those pesky “extra pounds” have not come back to haunt me. Because I enjoy walking. I literally hate missing a day. I do not set a specific distance or time frame. I just go, and I really enjoy it. Yesterday I walked 7 miles, because I had nothing else to do. Some days I only a walk a mile or two. Since I have been in Marietta, I have walked a lot more, because I have fewer people and things to spend my time on!
Here are the benefits of walking that are personal to me:
- It is free.
- It energizes me and puts me in a better mood.
- It lets me be outside in this beautiful weather we are having!
- Lady gets to participate.
- On the rare occasion that Andrew does go with me, it is great quality time together.
- When I walk alone, it gives me great, uninterrupted time to spend with God.
- It is an activity that my whole family (one day) will be able to participate in: there are no age constraints!
And here are the PROVEN benefits of walking:
- Walking is accessible to EVERYONE.
- It is gentle and low-impact.
- It lowers low density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol) .
- It raises high density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol).
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It deflects diabetes.
- It can get you off meds, or at least some of them: “Using data from the National Walkers Health Study, including more than 32,000 women and 8,000 men, researchers found that those who took the longest weekly walks, not necessarily accumulated the most mileage per week, were more likely to use less medication (www.rodale.com).”
- It can help decrease fibromyalgia pain: “A small study found that in women 32 to 70 years old, those who walked 60 minutes, performed light exercises, and stretched three times a week for 18 weeks reported significant improvements in walking and mental capacity, and were less tired and depressed (www.rodale.com).”
- It helps beat cancer.
- It reduces stroke risk.
- It can fight dementia (click here)
- It improves your mood.
So…. LET’S GET WALKING!!!