I remember how as a child, I always hated long walks. I squirmed and protested at any occasion where my mum announced that we are going for a family walk. I didn’t see any excitement in just walking around for no other purpose than the walk itself, depriving me of the opportunity to play with my toys instead. Even the chance of ending up with an ice cream or sweets in my hand was often scant, as apparently the idea was to just walk, not to buy stuff. The horror! It wasn’t even proper exercise, or sport (that was football or basketball for me). What was the point in it, and why was mother, like so many other people, keen to do it regularly?
How things have changed since then! I have learned to appreciate the many benefits of walking. For starters, it is equally valid for exercise as running. Both are considered forms of cardio exercise. Walking strengthens your heart, increases stamina and can even extend your life. Even a walk of 30 minutes a day, has been shown to have many long-term cardiovascular benefits.
But the benefits are not merely physical. There are a range of psychological and mental benefits to a long, or even a shorter walk. During a recent walk from my town to the neighbouring village of Llanmaes, I experienced most of them. A walk in nature creates a sense of stillness, tranquility and inner peace. , the silence and peace around, help you focus on your inner thoughts and feelings. But strangely enough, you are also becoming more observant of the world surrounding you and its microcosms. The day was bright, and there were carpets of flowers everywhere. We spotted the first swallows flying around this year. A water stream was inhabited by green algae, water frogs and small transparent fish. A playground looked strangely eerie with no soul in sight (as people were observing social distancing). We greeted from a distance the only two other people we saw during our walk, as they were strolling around the courtyard of a small church.
And here comes the paradox of a walk with no apparent purpose in itself. It instead creates a sense of purpose in your mind, as it helps you refocus and live the moment. It evokes a sense of gratefulness and appreciation of the present. It invites you to realign yourself with your centre.
A good walk has all the benefits of a short meditation, or a mindfulness session. Additionally, it provides the benefits of physical exercise. It is an excellent opportunity to daydream and plan creative activity, as the artists and daydreamers among us will know. And it fills your heart with gratefulness and appreciation for the beauty our senses deliver to us, helping us to focus on what is worth focusing on in our lives.
When is the last time you took a walk? Can you remember what you felt, heard and saw? What benefits have you experienced? It’s on your doorstep, so if you haven’t done it recently, go out for a walk now. It cures anxiety and negative thoughts, and replenishes the mind like no many other activities do.
Kostas The Coach is a Psychologist, Life and Small Business Coach and NLP Practitioner based in Llantwit Major, Wales. I help people of various backgrounds find the ideal intersection between profit, joy and values in their lives, and I assist businesses to grow sustainably while remaining aligned to their why.
If any of the topics discussed here has intrigued you, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me on Kostasthecoach@gmail.com or contact me via telephone or SMS on 07725653870.