The benefits of walking: mind, body and soul

Rear View Of Family Taking Dog For Walk In CountrysideIn today’s fitness arena the newest is almost always thought to be the best.  I definitely like to feel the burn to know I am getting the job done and this has taken me to everything from barre classes to Pilates to interval workouts all around town.  While there will always be a place for these exercises when you are looking to lose weight or work specifically on certain strengths or body parts, sometimes you need something a little lower impact but packed with other benefits.  An injury after a cycling class forced me to resort back to my old go-to…Walking.

In my mind walking was something done by people just getting back in a workout state of mind.  While some of the low impact benefits do make walking appealing to those who want to take it easy on their knees or hips, I fell in love with some of the other benefits of walking. With high impact exercise off my menu for a while any exercise is definitely better than no exercise.  As many jobs have us sitting all day it is a great way to get on your feet and get moving.  Gymnast girlYou can always modify your work out as well by adding weights around your ankles and/or wrist or picking up the pace.  Also you can mix in some calisthenics like jumping jacks or squats to add some strength training to your walk.

I have discovered through my walks at Hermann Park that the physical benefits are actually at the bottom of the list on why I walk.  Instead it’s the mental benefits that keep me coming back.  Having a chance to get out outdoors, stretch my legs and let the stress of the day melt away under the umbrella of trees.  After a long day it is the perfect break between work and home that delivers you a little bit calmer and better able to give your best self to your family.   It is a chance to reflect on the day before you put the past behind you and to meditate on how you can get better in the days to come.  Most of all surrounded by the miracle of nature it is a great place to just feel grateful.  There is no better reality check from what you don’t have then realizing all that you do and a great way to change your perspective, even after a horrible day.  Especially while the weather is mild, take advantage of a great chance to walk in a park or on a trail in Houston.

Exploring Sydney on foot

The Rocks Market (3)Maps, recommendations, Google… all of these things can help you navigate your way around a city but for me the best way to discover a new city and get your bearings is by walking.  Walking not only provides hands on experience to the lay of the land, but it also lays out the things you want to see and don’t mind missing as gives you a good idea of where you stand on plotting your adventures.  My most recent adventure to Sydney landed us in the city early in the morning with nothing but time before our hotel room was ready.  This also gave the perfect opportunity to get out and explore Sydney.

The Rocks Market (9) The Rocks Market (8) The Rocks Market (7) The Rocks Market (6) The Rocks Market (4)If walking is your means of transportation, making sure it is central is pretty important.  My first stay in Sydney I was in prime location in the Central Business District.  As you may expect for many downtowns throughout the world, arriving early on a weekend morning can be a bit slow.  Sydney, however, is a city made for walking with many of its sites and attractions are located fairly close to one another.  Our hotel was only a block away from the shopping district and a short ten minute walk to major attractions such as the Opera House or Rocks area.  So with a quick review of the map with the concierge and a recommendation on what direction would best serve our curiosities we were off.

The Rocks Market (2)For me walking and vacation are partners in crime.  At home there is always a schedule and a rush and someplace to be, but on vacation none of those expectations exist.  You can go as fast as your feet will carry you and following the gentle breeze of the water we found ourselves at the Rocks.  Walking also gives you a chance to get up close and personal to things that are easily missed when riding in a cab or with public transportation.  We saw shops and restaurants that peaked our interest and finally wound up at The Rocks market.  From cupcakes to fresh juicing options to some great local vendors it was a great lead way into another benefit of walking, meeting the natives.  The residents of a city are the best indicator of what is important to the culture and getting out and talking to people give you a sense of their values, lifestyle, fashion, and even sense of humor.  ApetitoTalking with the vendors we got first hand recommendations on where to go and what to do on a wide range of subjects that we could never have covered on our own.  These recommendations came from the true city experts, the people that live there and have seen all of the highs and lows.  Not to mention we found some great finds at the market that I wore throughout my trip.  All in all spending our first day walking the city prepared me for getting around the rest of my trip and taught me a lot about what makes Sydney such a special place to visit.