Health Tips: Walking Guide Personal Fulfillment

A good walk can provide social, spiritual, and fitness long-term benefits. Advice for making the experience work better.

As a serious fitness fanatic, I viewed walking as a means of transportation, and the stage that follows crawling in human development. I never saw it as a means of staying in shape or as providing me with personal amusement. I no longer spend hours in the gym, but I have found a means of fitness that is consistent and enjoyable. Walking is an exercise that can be challenging, social, spiritual, and ultimately fulfilling.

My quest for the perfect exercise began long ago. I tried running, biking, swimming. weight training, and aerobics classes. I found that I would attain fitness goals, only to lose the battle in personal motivation. I could not keep the frenzied pace necessary to maintain the physique I desired. Hours at the gym got in the way of having a real life, and I wanted more from my time than mirrors, muscles and machines. I like the smell of sweating bodies, but I knew there was probably greater satisfaction in a professional life, social time, my husband, and oh yes, time with my kids. The working out 10 to 15 hours a week just was not in my life curriculum.

The outcome was the rather potato shaped body worn by the sedentary section of the population. This was not acceptable. With 30 extra pounds and little money, I could not see myself joining a gym. I had conveniently lost all my tight fitting shiny workout gear anyway. I needed another route to fitness. I found myself watching the people wandering up and down the street. They walked with speed, and energy. I noticed their bodies were toned, and they conversed while they strolled. I reconsidered walking and found the consistent fitness routine that I sought for so long.

My sojourning began solo. It was pleasant this way. I walking with my children, but there was too much whining and stopping. Then I came up with the idea to include other moms, and other children. This worked out extremely well. The plan was to invite 3 or 4 moms to a nearby park. The children would be deposited near the play equipment with various supplies (shovels, trucks, dolls, snacks, juice, etc.). The mothers then, would walk around the playground, children in eyesight at all times. This give the mom the option of responding to outbursts or ignoring them depending on parenting style.

This mother-child walk program was a grand success. It incorporated many needs into one activity. Mothers today feel the need to offer their children varied social experiences in the form of play groups. This outing qualified. Many mothers cannot find the time to exercise for lack of available baby-sitters, and lack of baby-sitter funds. This excluded both of these problems. Stay-at-home moms often need therapeutic discussions to help them build self-esteem and justify their existence. These walks provided time for conversation and peer support. It was helpful to view the way other people respond to their child's small crises, hurt knees, relationship struggles, and inability to share toys. This setting provided a relaxed arena for observation. It also helped in the area of fitness motivation. All adults involved felt a desire not to leave a mother walking alone, so each was driven to come whether they wanted to or not.

Walking can be approached in the group format or as an individual activity. I find the solo walk is a retreat from my busy schedule. I never use a personal radio, or disc player with headphones. This would be more input where I seek only the sound of wind or passing cars to create a meditative experience. It is this time when I seek counsel from God, and can concentrate wholly on the answers given. My personal walk in the spiritual realm is enhanced by my personal walk through the neighboring streets of my home.

The humbling realization that walking is an exercise that effectively burns calories, and is not jarring to my bones, made me reconsider my previous disdain. I realized that no matter how chummy the overstuffed chair got with my tosh, I could still convince myself to go for a little walk. I could get moving and increase my cardio-vascular health. Walking gave me social outlet, a spiritual retreat, and a consistent path to fitness. The simplicity of the exercise did not exclude the benefits derived, and I can now happily declare that I am slim again and walking through my 3rd consistent year of physical fitness.

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