Change of pace: Consider walking for your next get together

It might sound like a random invitation, but at a recent holiday gathering of women friends, a community acquaintance, Terry, invited me to go for a walk.

We had been talking about feeling a bit stressed and sad watching some of the rude behavior of others whether in the media or in our daily lives.

Always a positive person, Terry explained that she had some therapy she wanted to share with me. She explained how she recently invited a friend on a long beach walk, and how wonderful she felt afterward. 

She noted that her mood had improved. She said because of the conversation during the walk, she felt a closer connection to her friend. 

And lastly, she said she was happy to be doing physical activity, something she has placed great value on her entire adult life.

As I sipped my wine that evening, I mentally put myself on that beach, getting some needed exercise, building a closer connection to this amazing lady, and boosting my emotional well-being.

In all the years I have been walking, I mostly walk alone, and generally on the same path most days. I never seemed to have the time to devote to taking a destination hike with a friend.

Terry and I parted ways that evening, agreeing to compare our calendars and book a nice long beach walk in the coming weeks.

Most of us know regular walking has mental and physical health benefits. From maintaining a healthy weight and losing body fat, to preventing or managing various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, walking is good medicine. 

Walking can reduce stress and helps boost our mood because it increases blood flow and blood circulation to the brain and body.

What is interesting is that most people don't think of walking as exercise, which makes it the perfect form of exercise.

It doesn’t take anything more than an appropriate set of shoes. It can be done almost any time and anywhere, with others or alone.

Walking with a friend, however, produces even greater benefits. Walks can be more fun. Time flies when you can interact with someone.

Walking with a friend can deepen your relationship, providing a meaningful way to spend time.

And according to studies, walking and talking can be its own heart-rate monitor. How easily you can carry on a conversation is a good indicator of your effort level.

Walking with a friend also helps keep us accountable. If it’s cold or rainy outside, it’s easy to stay in bed. If a friend is counting on you, you are more likely to get up and walk.

We are blessed in our community with so many wonderful areas to walk in – on beaches, around lakes, and in community parks.

And, while location is important, the company we walk with can be the real game changer.  A wise person once said, “A journey well-shared, is a journey well-enjoyed.”

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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