The Walking Cure

I'm not going to bombard you with the research about walking being one of the best things you can do for your overall health (I think we all know), but did you know that walking is also amazing for your mental health? There are also TONS of studies backing that claim, and if you still need convincing I encourage you to use a little tool called Google and find out for yourself. Walking is meditative, transformative, and endorphin boosting. Walking relieves stress/anxiety, can distract you from ruminating, brings you into the present, and can lower your blood pressure.

I often have clients who want to exercise more, and yet, don't simply take themselves for a walk. As a therapist, when it comes to excuses, I've heard them all, but I often think the bigger issue is thinking that walking won't be enough. When I talk to clients about starting an exercise routine, they often think they need to spend money, join a gym or studio, commute, drip with sweat in order to achieve results. This thinking is flawed. This thinking is what we call "black and white" or "concrete" thinking. This thinking is an extreme, all or nothing attitude, and it's not the place to start when embarking on a new habit.

Walking is FREE and is available to you at all times. It's actually quite easy to incorporate into daily life with a bit more mindfulness integrated into your daily routine. Here are some ideas to get you moving more:

1) If you have a dog that you don't walk, START. Dogs need to be walked even if you have a big back yard. Dogs benefit from walking in almost the same ways we do. If you're struggling to put your own self care first, put your dog's well being at the forefront and start with two 15 minute walks per day.

2) When you catch up with a friend for coffee, brunch, or a drink, ask the friend if you can go for a walk instead or in addition. Most people will happily oblige and think it's a great idea. Notice how you feel after walking and talking and let that serve as additional motivation.

3) Save your favorite podcast episodes for solo walks so that you have something to motivate you to get out the door.

4) Don't have a trail or park nearby? I am a HUGE fan of urban hiking, which is an amazing way to see your city or neighborhood in a new way. When you are walking, you notice things that you don't in a car. My favorite Seattle neighborhoods for urban hiking are Queen Anne to gawk at the amazing houses, West Seattle to take in all the views, and Capitol Hill to take note of new restaurants to try.

5) Do you have a grocery store, drug store, or corner market nearby? Next time you just need an item or two that is easy to carry, walk there instead of driving. Adding some of these shorter, but more consistent walks into your routine have a big pay off.

Walking has been hugely beneficial in my own life. When I feel stuck in my mind, walking actually helps my thoughts move through. Sitting for hours upon hours as a therapist has not been kind to my back and being upright actually feels like a huge privilege most of us have taken for granted. All of the aforementioned is a huge part of why I offer walk and talk therapy sessions in addition to virtual appointments. If you're interested in walking therapy, book a consultation and get your sneakers ready!