Isn’t it Enough to Just Walk? 4

Isn’t a simple walk enough? Isn’t there benefit in setting off, putting one foot in front of the other, for whatever length of time one has?

Must fitness be the goal?  Must one attempt to raise one’s heart-rate, beat yesterday’s time?

Isn’t the peace and joy walking bring reward enough?

Must a walk be filled with challenges to be beneficial?  Walking up the 56 steps one time is not enough of an achievement; the former coach must walk it one more time.  If we’re meandering – we must speed it up.  Walking for 1 ½ – 2 hours isn’t enough.  Walking the hills we encounter is not enough; we must purposely find and walk more hills.

Don’t think I’m lazy.  I’m not, some days I walk a fast pace because that’s what I feel.  I walk over hill and dale, up steps, and because of my friend’s urging, on dirt trails that are outside of my comfort zone.  My complaint is that I’ve seen this “up the ante” behavior before.  A simple, pleasurable walk  (or other activity) is not enough.  It must be measured…evaluated (distance, time, difficulty) to be worthwhile. 

This “up the ante” pressure is similar to what I’ve observed in parents reading to their children in a literacy program I once directed.  Parents often leached the joy of reading away from a child by quizzing the child about the pictures/the story instead of just reading joyfully, humorously, regularly with  their son or daughter.  They often made reading fill like a distasteful chore as they turned it into a competition and imitated the strictest teacher they’d experienced.  All the program wanted parents to do was read to their children daily.  On its own,  regular reading will achieve:

  • Expansion of vocabulary;
  • Pleasant and close interaction between parent and child;
  • Broadening of the child’s imagination;
  • The comfort of repetition because a child, especially a young child, will ask to hear the same story over and over again;
  • The security of routine (bedtime story as nightly ritual);
  • Lengthening of child’s (and parent’s) attention span;
  • Increased patience and listening skills;
  • Motivation to learn to read;
  • Etcetera

Likewise walking, just walking, 3-6 times a week will achieve:

  • Lightening of burdens and worries;
  • Peace of mind;
  • Appreciation for the neighborhood as you notice things you don’t notice when driving;
  • Gratitude for the foresight of landscape planners from long ago (all hail Frederick Law Olmstead);
  • Appreciation for neighbors who paint their homes in beautiful/interesting colors and dress their yards and gardens in finery (Thank YOU!);
  • Increased stamina;
  • Companionship that deepens organically into friendship;
  • Improved sleep;
  • Increased desire to walk longer, farther, more;
  • Etcetera.

I know the importance of goals, of being pushed, of increasing one’s heart rate but I do think that sometimes in our over-analysis (if you add hand weights, walk at this pace, walk with this gait you’ll increase…) we take away the simple joy inherent in the act itself.

A walk, no frills, no thrills, no spills, is its own reward!
(Ladies – this is not a complaint as much as an observation.)

*It will become a habit, a need in no time at all.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Isn’t it Enough to Just Walk?

  • Dina Lynch Eisenberg

    Amen, sister! This fitness craze has gotten to the point that I feel criminal for strolling and enjoying the good weather.

    Yes, I want to eat right and preserve my health but not out of guilt or shame. So, I say stroll and let your heart rate rise over the beautiful scenery or a fond memory or etcetera

    Looking forward to meeting you at Blogher Boston.

    Best, Dina

  • Sarah Caron

    How true that is! There is an abundance of pushing for the sake of pushing. Stopping and just enjoying the moments — whether it’s a stroll down the road, a drive to the store or a book read at bedtime — really is good for the soul.

  • Nicole

    I admit, I am one of those fitness-crazed,up the ante runners (however, I’m training for a full marathon -26.2 miles – so I have a reason to go further and faster), but I agree that a walk for the sake of a walk is the best therapy. It’s funny, when I walk my regular running trail with my husband I notice SO much more around me, the flowers, the trees, the new paint on the neighbor’s house. Even the lizards scurrying across the sidewalk.

    I’m a special ed teacher and I see the same thing you saw with reading (and math, and science…) Parents are so worried that their kids won’t be top of the class that they push them into not caring about or enjoying school at all. Most things can be a learning opportunity, but not a test. If you are measuring the floor for new carpet, have the child help perhaps but don’t “instruct” and “test,” just enjoy the opportunity to have time with your child. By reading to your kids, just reading, can show kids that YOU love reading, and young kids want to do everything mommy and daddy do, so they too learn to love reading. Excelent post. Thank you!