By: Whitney Hopler, Communications Manager, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy.” – Charles Dickens
This edition was written by our center’s Communications Manager Whitney Hopler, whose book Wake Up to Wonder focuses on awe, and who often takes wonder walks.
Walking is a simple form of exercise that can significantly benefit your well-being. Physically, walking can strengthen your body’s fitness – from your cardiovascular and immune systems to your bones and muscles. Mentally, taking a walk can clear your mind, relieving stress while improving your mood and concentration. Research on the benefits of walking shows a diverse variety of ways that a walk can boost wellness. Learn more about how walking can strengthen your body and your mind.
You can have fun and discover inspiration on walks, as well. Stepping out on a nature hike can rejuvenate you. Hiking research shows that walking through natural settings can boost your happiness, creativity, and more. Practicing mindfulness while walking (mindful walking) can wake up your senses as you walk. Along the way, you can discover inspiring moments of awe by intentionally searching for them on a wonder walk.
Taking a walk is an easy activity to incorporate into your schedule and budget. Walking is flexible. You can walk outdoors just about anywhere – from your neighborhood to a park – for as much or as little time as you like. Walking is inexpensive, as well, since it doesn’t require any equipment other than a good pair of shoes. While any amount of walking is good for you, you can maximize walking benefits by going the farthest distance with the most intensity that you can manage.
Practices to Try: A 5K or a Nature Hike
Walking or running a distance of 5 kilometers (about 3.1 miles) is a realistic goal even for people who don’t walk or run regularly. The manageable distance and the flexibility to set your own pace allow you to participate comfortably while still achieving well-being benefits. Need some motivation? Check out these 5 reasons to participate in a 5K.
Taking a nature hike is another valuable way to discover the benefits of walking. Visit a park to walk through any type of natural environment that offers green spaces (such as trees and fields) and blue spaces (such as lakes and rivers). Pay attention to the beauty around you as you walk, and let it bring you peace and inspiration.
Every new walk you take is a fresh opportunity to strengthen your well-being. So enjoy the journey! Step into the adventure of discovery as you walk and see where your path leads.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s walking site presents walking recommendations and resources.
The Harvard Health Publishing article “Walking: Your Steps to Health” features practical tips for starting a habit of walking.
Mason Recreation’s page on Mason Trails presents information on local trails to walk.
The article “Famous Quotes on Walking and Well-Being” presents quotes to motivate you.
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