Archive for the ‘Walks with God’ Category

Why I Walk

Milestone birthdays pack a wallop. So the year I turned 40 I made two decisions.

 (Please.)

(Please.)

The first was to begin exercising regularly.

Quickly, before I could talk myself out of it, I enrolled in aerobics classes at the local Junior College. These were followed by several years in a Christian women’s aerobics class. High impact, low impact, strength training exercises. We even line-danced. Loved it.

Then the class disbanded. What, oh what, to do?

I decided to walk.

From my driveway, down past where the subdivision ends, following the curve of the road, past farmhouses, sheep, horses, cows, and now a school, to the busy road that eventually leads to our church, is a mile.

For about 13 years I have walked 2 miles a day, 6 days a week, year round.

What are the benefits?  Well, the Mayo Clinic lists the following:

  • Lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Higher HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduction in risk of or management of type 2 diabetes
  • Weight management
  • Mood improvement
  • Strength and fitness

Wow. And you don’t need special equipment. And anyone can do it. And the only place you have to go is out your front door.

Before you begin:

  • Purchase good walking shoes. They don’t need to be prohibitively expensive, but they should be specifically for walking and made by a reputable company.
  • Choose comfortable clothing. You don’t need to look like either a slob or a fashion plate, but you do need clothes that feel good.
  • Get in your car. Choose a direction. Drive a mile. A whole mile. Note where that point is.

Time to get going:

  • Start with a shorter distance.
  • Walk with a straight back, shoulders back and down. Pumping your arms brings your heart rate up faster.
  • Warm up with a slower pace for 5 minutes, then pick it up until your heart rate is eventually elevated for at least 20 minutes of your walk. “Pick it up” means walking briskly. “Briskly” means at a rapid pace. You know what that means. Don’t cheat.
  • Cool down for the last 5 minutes of your walk.
  • Stretch. You can find cool stretches all over the web.

Why a mile?

  • There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Walking the way I have described will get you a mile in 40 minutes.  That is 1/36 of a day. You may have to sacrifice some TV shows (mindless), or some of the news (depressing), or spend fewer minutes scrolling through FB or your Twitter feed (time-devouring).

That 40 minutes will get you better health, a mental lift, and more time actually out in your neighborhood.

exercisecartoonYes, I’ve added some hand and ankle weight exercises throughout the week, but they are in addition to, not in place of, that daily 2 miles.

I will share more about the actual experience of walking in my next post. Today, however, if you do not have an exercise plan for this brand new year, consider my suggestion. It’s easy. It’s doable.

Do it until you can’t do without it. Your life span will thank you.

Okay, the second decision was to learn to scuba dive. More about that later.

Is exercise one of your New Year’s goals? Have you started yet? Hey, what about walking?!

Orange Valentine (Thoughts on February)

While walking early one drizzly February morning with my doxie, I heard a very loud chorus of bird voices. Throughout a large, leafless oak in a farmhouse yard spread a congregation of robins.  Their cheery orange breasts shone in the muted sunlight filtering through showery clouds.  The presence of so many of these distinctive creatures was startling. Their chattering rose in waves that washed over Cosmo and I as we stood on the road. It was like a choir of gladness.

February is robin-like. Mid-month is technically mid-winter and at this precise point Valentines Day arrives.  This funny little pseudo-holiday is the bright orange breast of winter. For a brief moment in the very heart of the season’s stark colorlessness we are immersed in chocolate and flowers and bright red hearts.  We gorge on the color and taste and tenderness of love’s offerings. Somehow winter seems shortened and springtime hastened by the bold admonishment of this one day: Remember to show your love.

The ranks of robins thin by month’s end.  Perhaps they scatter and mingle among other birds throughout the year.  Or maybe they retreat to the hills and woodlands, far from man and his machinery.  Regardless, their unexpected appearance in midwinter gladdens the wet, chilly days of February and makes my heart want to sing along with them.

Do the people you love know it?

Thoughts on January

Vineyards of Sonoma Valley

Gone are the green leafy shades and sanctuaries of summer. Gone, too, are the leaves of brilliant fall vines flowing over the hills of our fair county.  Now, ghostly trees stand in blue dawn mists. In the gathering light of morning vineyards, pruned limbs are silhouetted against a pale sky.

This month strips and bares, revealing bones and sinew.  It is an honest month, without pretense, resting calm and confident between the pomp and celebration of Christmas and the bright sweetness of February’s love.

It is the month of my father’s birthday.  After Christmas when I was growing up, as January rolled around, he would at some point invariably exclaim, “Spring is on the way!” I believe he disliked what he considered the dreariness of winter months and there was something about the turn of the year that made spring seem within reach.

I wish I would have been there the morning of his death, his self-inflicted death, to put my arms around him and say those words he had uttered so often:  “Spring is on the way!”  The rain will cease, the darkness diminish, daylight will linger a bit longer with each passing day.  Don’t despair, don’t despair.  Spring is on the way.

Life is always at work, even in the dead of winter. Are you living in that awareness with hope and anticipation for the new year?

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