Writers, poets, musicians, theologians have all reflected on the profound positive power of taking a long walk.
I’m not talking about the kind of walk when you park toward the back of the grocery store parking lot to get in some extra steps or walk to the corner coffee shop. When I say a long walk, I mean just that—an extensive series of steps in which your destination is wherever your feet may carry you.
Fall is prime time for this type of excursion, as the air quiets down from the heat of summer, and the sun lingers coolly in the sky. Fall is a time of transition, of slowing down. It’s a living invitation to create space in our days to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going.
There is inherent value in long, rambling walks. There are also well-documented benefits—perhaps these will inspire you to lace up your shoes and get walking.
1) Physical Benefits
Even walking at a leisurely pace is good exercise. Long walks are associated with lower blood pressure, lower stress hormone levels, better metabolism, better cognitive function and weight management. Walking, in short, does a body good.
2) Emotional Benefits
The benefits spending significant time in any natural environment—yes, this includes an urban park—are well-established. When you walk, your brain is stimulated to produce neurotransmitters that are associated with positive emotions, like energizing endorphins. With that extra energy, you might find yourself thinking more clearly, worrying less and feeling happier.
Taking a long walk creates space—space in your body for your blood and biochemistry to flow, space in your mind for your thoughts to find each other, space for you to see more clearly. Even if you’re not sure where your wanderings will take you, walking will help you find your way.