Walking: journey with the senses

I love to walk – it is my favorite form of exercise and of exploring. I consider every walk a journey, a mini-trip. There is always something to discover.

Walking is good for my health, both physical and mental. Physically, because it is an aerobic exercise, so it exercises the heart and muscles of the lower body. Breathing the (relatively) fresh air brings oxygen to the brain. Filling the sun on my face and the wind in my hair invigorates me. Studies show that the capacity for memory improves with walking.

Enjoying the sun and breeze on a walk near the beach.

Enjoying the sun and breeze on a walk near the beach.

Psychologically, walking is a way to “clear my head” – I can ponder a problem or issue and develop fresh insight. I feel refreshed after a walk due to having taken the time to be alone, to observe nature, and delight in small discoveries: the contrast of bright yellow flowers against a 20150722_133837dark-colored bush, a leaf with a drop of rain in the middle, or weirdly shaped mushrooms that pop up in people’s yards at random.

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20150721_193138When I travel, I much prefer walking. I walked all the time in Spain and covered a lot of ground – only took the Metro once the whole time I was in Madrid! Walking, rather than taking a bus or taxi, allows me to figure out where places are in relation to each other.

Strolling through Segovia, Spain, I noticed this man making music with cups filled with different amounts of water.
Strolling through Segovia, Spain, I noticed this man making music with cups filled with different amounts of water.
In Granada, we walked past this display of teas for sale; I stopped to take a picture.
In Granada, we walked past this display of teas for sale; I stopped to take a picture.

I don’t understand people who walk around with headphones on – they seem so unaware of their surroundings. When I walk, I like to take my time, listen to the sounds around me, and always have a camera handy! My husband wants to bike more, but I prefer walking because at a slower pace I notice a lot of details. During a winter thaw, I notice the ice melting into puddles

A March thaw - the ice breaking up resembles a river delta.
A March thaw – the ice breaking up resembles a river delta.

on the sidewalk and the mirror images of trees and other objects in the puddles. In the summer, I see children playing on a playground in the park and I hear their shouts of joy. I stop to take a drink of water at a cool water fountain and relish the cold water on my lips and in my throat. In my neighborhood, one of the most common smells is a rather bad one – we have a lot of skunks! However, there are good smells too, such as lilacs blooming in the springtime.

Walking allows me to explore with all my senses.

Sometimes I discover something unusual - like this abandoned Barbie in newly-mowed grass.
Sometimes I discover something unusual – like this abandoned Barbie in newly-mowed grass.
Blue heron on a pond near our local fitness center. There's a great walking path behind the building.
Blue heron on a pond near our local fitness center. There’s a great walking path behind the building.
A walking buddy and I decided to explore this trail along the Des Plaines River.
A walking buddy and I decided to explore this trail along the Des Plaines River.
My nephew, Mike taking a walk with his daughter, Sylvia in tow.
My nephew, Mike taking a walk with his daughter, Sylvia in tow.

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