by Deborah Grayson Riegel
“Walking is one of the simplest and most strategic things you can do for yourself. It takes little preparation, minimal effort, no special equipment, and it can contract or expand to fit the exact amount of time you have available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single bout of moderate-to vigorous activity (including walking) can improve our sleep, thinking, and learning, while reducing symptoms of anxiety. When we go for a walk, we perform better on tests of memory and attention; our brain cells build new connections, staving off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age; we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down; and our attention is left to meander and observe, helping us generate new ideas and to have strokes of insight.”
“Several years ago, I was watching a Today Show segment about helping your children and teens create healthy habits. The subject of the piece was a notable nutritionist, whose kids were reluctant to eat their greens and work up a sweat. The most memorable quote came from one of her pre-teens who said, “Walking makes me sad.”
“I must admit that, if I think about choosing between catching up on watching The Crown or walking, walking would make me sad, too. In fact, if I had to choose between walking and any of my not-so-guilty pleasures — like baking triple-chocolate brownies or shopping for Japanese pancake molds online (they’ll arrive in two days) — I would choose the latter.
“But, when I think about the simplest and most strategic thing I am able to do for myself that’s Covid-safe, it’s walking.”
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