My dog knows. Or at least she’s hopeful. She sees me disappear to the bedroom after I get home from work and her hopes climb. If she had a tail, she’d wag it. Instead, she wiggles her butt (she’s an Australian Shepherd). I emerge from the bedroom wearing shorts, a long sleeve quarter-zip shirt and running shoes. She’s excited now. I reach for her leash and she goes full-on bonkers. We’re about to get our steps in. We’re heading to Hafer Park.
Yes, walking is good for my physical health, but it’s also good for my mind. It’s my quiet time when I work things out – an hour long meditation. I breathe in questions and concerns of the day and I breathe out answers and assurances. All while I break a sweat.
My walk is also about building community. When I see people we know, sometimes we chat. Sometimes it’s a simple head nod as we pass. Kids want to pet my dog and know why she doesn’t have a tail (I do my best to look surprised and ask them if they’ve seen it).
If benefits for my body and mind aren’t enough, good old-fashioned competition gets me out the door. I use FitBit, a fitness app that counts my steps (like the ones mentioned in our ‘14 Fitness Tips for Outdoor Walking’ article on page 14). It’s a watch-like device that communicates with my iPhone and connects me to my FitBit-wearing friends and family. I can see how many steps my sister Tracy gets in California. I can compete with my late wife’s cousin Roger in Fort Worth, plus a bunch of friends here in Edmond. Competition for bragging rights can become fierce, especially when Alison, a local competitor, walks laps in her house to bump her numbers.
When I get back home, my dog is happy. And I’m more relaxed. I’ve triggered the release of endorphins. I’ve gotten a deeper perspective on issues in my life and work. I may have even postponed a first heart attack. And to top it all off…I’ve taken the lead with my FitBit friends. At least for the time being. Tomorrow is another day. And another walk.