Being outdoors is good for you. More and more research evidence indicates the benefits of being outside and experiencing the natural world. Now, before you take your cold beverage and head to your front porch, you need to understand that such a scenario barely meets the criteria that psychologists mean.
On Your Mark
You will need good walking shoes. There are many inexpensive varieties out there, just make sure they fit well on your feet. There is nothing like a blister to cause a setback in the get healthy, clear the mind routine! Dress for the weather. It’s better to take a sweatshirt and not need it, than to leave it home and wish you hadn’t. If the walking trail is in a heavily wooded area, plan to wear long jeans. Sleeves are helpful too, but not as necessary.
Walking on fairly flat ground, as so many walking trails are today, may not necessitate a hiking stick. However, if you aren’t always steady on your feet, or it’s been a while since you’ve done much walking or even exercise, then take a hiking stick.
Be sure you have a good bottle of water. There are so many reusable bottles available to purchase and use. Check the discount or dollar stores for the best deals. If you fill it at least half way with ice, you shouldn’t need a thermos style bottle. Unless you plan on walking for more than a couple miles, leave snacks in your car. That makes less to carry and something to enjoy when you get back. Apples, grapes, granola, protein bars are all good snack foods for after your walk.
A small knapsack on your back is perfect for holding the bottle of water, a sweatshirt, and a hand towel to keep yourself dry while walking. It’s also the perfect place for car keys and house keys. Too much stuff in your knapsack will weigh you down so choose carefully what you take on your walk.
William Schoellkopf advises to keep your cell phone in your pocket or even in your hand as you walk. You will feel more comfortable if it’s close enough to use in an emergency.
There are thousands of good walking trails all over the United States today. Some of them are located in National Parks. Others can be found in metropolitan park areas, or community parks too. Your local Parks and Recreation office should be able to point you in the direction of one that works for you. Most trails have markers that tell you how far you have gone and where to turn around for a specific walking length. If you have never done this, or at least haven’t done so in some time, don’t be a hero. Set a reasonable goal for yourself. Perhaps one quarter mile is a good starting place. You will be surprised at how far that really is! Keep the long term picture in mind and gradually build up your walking distance. Should you decide to do too much, too soon, you may get discouraged and not continue. Walking trails have benches along the way. Don’t be afraid to use them. Stop, look around, drink some water and then move on.
Some folks like to listen to music as they walk. Others find that the music of nature around them is enough. Try it without your music and see how lovely the sounds really are that surround you. The bonus is that you are readily able to hear others on the trail and not be surprised when someone comes up beside you.
There are wonderful people on the walking trails. Extended conversations are not a requirement, but a greeting is often just the boost you or the other person might need.
Be sure to leave valuables at home or out of sight in your vehicle. If you decide it’s a great day to ride your bike or walk your dog, make certain the trail you use allows for those activities. Taking the dog? Take along a couple plastic grocery bags for cleanup. Unless you must, wait to leave your trash until you are back at the trailhead. Those receptacles are usually covered to keep down the odor. Folks want to smell fresh air, not trash!
However you walk, run, bike, or amble, get out there and go! Not only is it good for your body, but it is also great for your soul. Come on, get off that porch and get started!