Five Tips for a Crisp, Brisk, Gentle Walk

Walks are, not surprisingly, pretty awesome. After all, they’re not very physically strenuous, and you get to slow down and enjoy your favorite sights. I myself happen to live by a scenic bike trail that winds not only through a quaint forest, but also my favorite part of town. So you can bet, when the trees turn all the shades of the earthy rainbow, I’m pulling out my floppy beanie and strolling through those trees and breathing that crisp fall air.

That said, there are ways to get the best for your boot, if you catch my drift. You can exercise your body, but do it comfortably and safely. Here are just a few tips I’ve learned over many years of strolling down country lanes and city bike trails.

1) Keep your back straight. When you walk, walk with pride. It’s not going to feel good to slump forward. Remember that a walk is supposed to gently move your body, and not cause undue physical stress. When you drop your shoulders and puff out your chest a little, you’ll not only walk a little taller, but you’ll feel a little taller too. Think back to The Princess Diaries when Julie Andrews teaches Anne Hathaway how to walk in a crowd like a princess (“We don’t slump like this!”).

2) Don’t force your pace. If you want to walk a certain distance in a certain amount of time, that’s fine. But I think a walk is enjoyed best when you don’t force a certain speed. Walk with a natural gait, and try not to consciously increase or decrease your speed. If you start walking faster for whatever reason, keep that speed until you naturally slow down.

3) If it’s safe, close your eyes for a moment. Sometimes, a walk relaxes me so well that, for a step or two, I will close my eyes and enjoy a good breath. With this step, though, you want to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t take this step when you’re crossing a street, or when you’re very close to other people. Wait until there is a suitable distance between you and other obstacles, and only close your eyes for a step or two. While you do so, make sure you take a good deep breath. The breath will not only help you keep your posture, but it’s also good timing for when you open your eyes again.

4) Wear supportive shoes. A good walk happens from the feet up. Supporting your feet will lead to good posture, and will maintain comfort on longer walks. I’ve sometimes gone walking wearing a fun new outfit, but that outfit’s shoes were not supportive for the walk I wound up taking. Shoes that have padding, or at least some give, for your feet can assist in you feeling and actually walking taller, as stated earlier. If you want to be fashionable on your walk, I would only recommend going as far as you are comfortable; it might not be as far as you want, but you don’t want to hurt your feet by taking them beyond their limit in improper shoes.

5) Listen to music that fits your pace. Have you noticed that you walk faster when you get an adrenaline boost? If I listen to music that excites me, I start walking in beat with the music. But if the music is slow and soothing, then my pace is the same. Again, you don’t want to force your pace. But if you want to keep a pace going for a while, then music might be a good idea. Remember, you want to take whatever steps you can to make yourself comfortable.

Long story short, walks are meant to be gentle, so enjoy them. Enjoy your surroundings, enjoy the company you keep, and don’t rush yourself — you probably already do enough of that during the day.