Walking: Good for Body and Soul

Walking: Good for Body and Soul

September 18, 2022

By Kae Tritle, RN Well-being Coordinator
 
Iowa fall weather is here: sunny days with lower humidity and crisp mornings that beckons us to be outside. One of my favorite activities in this weather is walking. It is inexpensive, requires minimal equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. 
 
Benefits of walking include increased circulation, endurance, balance, and the maintenance of metabolism, muscle, and joint function. Research has also noted that physical activity done outside is good for your emotions and brain health, decreasing depression, managing stress, and improving mood and brain function. 

“Molecules made by muscles in motion can influence structure and health of the brain. Physical activity seems to increase the brain’s capacity to regenerate neurons, calm inflammation, and enhance neuron to neuron communication; therefore improving learning, attention and memory.” (C. Chang “Why Exercise can Keep the Brain Healthy” National Geographic June 2022) 
 
Being outside in God’s creation can also be a way to connect our heart, soul, and mind to God’s presence. Being mindful as we move our body opens up the time and space to increase our awareness of God. The beautiful scenery causes us to praise and thank God. Walking past our neighborhoods' houses often helps us be aware of prayer needs.  Many times answers to questions or troublesome problems will come to us. And God’s peace can envelop us in the midst of heartache. 
 
Suggestions to help get you out and moving are:
  • Decide what time of day works best
  • Plan your route or take advantage of community, county, and state park trails.
  • Make an appointment with yourself on your calendar. Make sure to keep it!
  • Set a goal with a pedometer or wearable fitness device, making sure you meet it by day’s end
  • Partner with a buddy so you don’t miss a day.
  • If needed, use hiking poles for balance and stability
  • Plan for the weather with appropriate clothing and footwear. Or have an alternate indoor space.
  • As daylight hours shorten, invest in a wearable headlight to light your path.
 
“Our steps are made firm by the Lord…though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NRSV)
 
All clergy, their spouses, and conference personnel are eligible to participate in the Virgin Pulse Activity program. This web-based digital program helps you earn rewards for enhancing your fitness and overall wellness by tracking physical activities, health habits, steps, and learning activities.  You can also connect with friends and colleagues who are participants in Virgin Pulse. Go to http://join.virginpulse.com/wespath to join. Here is a PDF of Virgin Pulse's information and enrollment instructions.