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The Power of Walking

The Power of Walking

I’ve been a dedicated walker ever since I got my Fitbit 6 years ago. I don’t run. If Mark Twain were a walker, he’d probably have said something like, “Running is a good walk spoiled.” I subscribe to that theory. I’m a numbers nerd. That’s why I love my Fitbit. It tracks every step I take. Last year, I walked 6,402,002 steps and ran maybe 500 one time to get out of the rain. That’s up from 2.6 million steps the first year I had my Fitbit. I wouldn’t say I was sedentary before that but I definitely wasn’t walking 3,000 miles a year.

Back in 2020, I set a goal to walk outside every day. Since then, I’ve done just that. Rain or shine. Yaktrax or tennis shoes. I’ve walked outside every single day no matter where I’ve been. Walking is a great way to see a city. I’ve walked on the beach in Newport Beach, CA, under the arch in St. Louis, along the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA, around the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, NC, in the desert by the red-rock buttes in Sedona, AZ, down to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, around downtown San Diego past aircraft carriers and Petco Park, and through Central Park in New York City.

Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon is hands down my favorite place to walk. I’m not being a homer here. It’s hard to beat a walk along Lake Michigan. I start my 6-mile walk at Beachwood Park most weekday mornings, unless I have an early meeting and need to stay close to home, between 6:00 AM-7:00 AM depending on the time the sun rises (later on the weekends). I walk through the woods, along the beach, to both lighthouses and the pier on Muskegon Lake before finishing up on the boardwalk along Beach Street. I have thousands of pictures of sunrises, lighthouses, waves, boats, fisherman, snow, rainbows, ducks, deer, and egrets. You name it, and I’ve taken a pic. My favorites are framed and hanging on the wall in our house. 

The exercise is a nice perk, but it’s not the reason I walk. My walks are my Zen time. No distractions. Just me, Mother Nature, my audiobooks and podcasts, and quiet time to think. As Ferris Bueller might say, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.” 

An article in Harvard Business Review by Deborah Grayson Riegel about not underestimating the power of a walk, offers three ways to walk with purpose. These are her words:

1. Walk for perspective. These are trying times. The global pandemic has robbed so many of us of so much, and yet, most of us can still find perspective in the struggle. On days when I need some perspective, I’ll stroll while looking at the sun, the trees, or the water. Those views remind me to reflect on the expanse of the universe, to appreciate the beauty of nature, and prompt me to consider how much world there still is for me to explore.

2. Walk for learning. As much as I like to clear my mind, I also like to fill it with new and useful information. I might walk while listening to a podcast or an audio book, or even the recording of a webinar I signed up for but wasn’t able to attend. Or I might take some photos with my phone of a tree or an animal I can’t identify (which, as a native Manhattanite, are most trees and animals) and look it up when I get home.

3. Walk for productivity. Sometimes I’ll arrange a coaching call with a client who has also committed to walk-and-talk. Or I might schedule a networking call with a client who is walking, too. I am also productive when I walk and sometimes dictate brainstorming ideas or even a new article into my phone’s voice recorder. When I come home, I have something I can cross off my to-do list, in addition to that day’s walk.

I appreciate Deborah's perspective and insights. There’s no better way for me to start my day off on the right foot than my daily walk. If you do something active on a regular basis, you know what I mean. Maybe walking’s not your jam. Pick something that is, like riding a bike, doing the treadmill, playing pickleball, or jogging with the dog. I bet you a dollar, you’ll be glad you did.

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