5 Ways to Shake Up Your Walk
May 23, 2023May 23, 2023
3 MIN READ living outside wellness
It was a cracked skull that got Annabel Streets back on her feet.
From a hospital bed where she was recuperating from a fall outside her home that left her temporarily unable to walk, Annabel marveled at the doctors and nurses rushing around on perfectly functional legs. She wondered how she’d come to take walking, and her legs, for granted. She decided that as soon she was able to walk under her own power again, she’d walk everywhere.
Annabel became a committed walker and turned that newfound love affair with walking into a book, “52 Ways to Walk,” an, ahem, stroll, through the science of walking and what it can do for body and mind.
We talked with her for our Solve By Walking podcast, and one of our biggest takeaways was the importance of breaking out of a walking rut. Tired of the same old routes? Make it fun, make it new, and you’ll walk far more often. Here are some ideas we took from Annabel for shaking up your own walking routine:
Twenty percent of all known bird species live in urban areas. Each acre in your neighborhood is home to hundreds of millions of insects. Do you know what flowers and plants grow along your regular walking path? Bring along a small pair of binoculars, a monocular (like binoculars, but with only one lens), or even a magnifying glass, and you’re walking like a naturalist. There are plenty of apps out there, too, that will identify plant and animal species just by pointing it at them. Making daily walks a little nature hike is a great way to add variety to a walking routine.
It’s easy to call off a walk and decide to stay on the couch when you hear the first pitter patter of rain drops against the window. But it’s also easy to throw on a rain jacket and rain pants and take a rain walk. Studies suggest the negative ions created when water drops hit the ground can boost your mood. Anecdotal evidence says smelling the petrichor (the dusty wet scent of rain), turning your face into it, and embracing life-giving precipitation is a blast—if you’re properly dressed (waterproof shoes wouldn’t hurt).
You know who loves a good walk? Almost everyone. Instead of having a coffee hang, have a walking hang. Scheduling a meeting with a colleague? Make it a walking meeting. Book group discussion time? No reason you can’t discuss that novel while strolling through the park. Whether it’s catching up with a friend, polishing a marketing plan, or just exploring new parts of a city together, making walking a social activity is a fantastic way to keep things fresh.
Sure, you’ve been walking since you were a toddler. But our sitting-heavy lifestyle has reshaped our bodies and retrained our moving to make our walking stiffer, less powerful, and more difficult. Walking with purpose—thinking about our gait—can make us better, healthier walkers. Pushing off with your back foot, employing a rolling motion through the foot (hello WK400 walking shoes!), lengthening the spine and neck, and swinging those arms can help smooth out our walking and reduce stiffness.
How often do you drive to the post office? The dentist? The grocery store just for a few things? Walking instead of driving when doing errands is called functional walking and boy can it change how you view transportation in general. You’d be surprised how different your city or town can seem when viewed at the pace of walking, rather than through a windshield. It’s better for you, better for the planet, and affords a whole new perspective.
For a whole lot more from Annabel about how to make purposeful walking an integral part of your day, and the benefits that can bring, listen to our interview with her right here.