Walking the Mall

Urban walking?  Mall walking?  I’ve been looking for an alternative to walking in the scorching sun in L.A. these past few weeks.  Honestly, walking the mall wasn’t inviting.  I thought I’d be distracted by window shopping and have to navigate around shoppers.  But on a particularly hot day last week when I wanted exercise but was dopey from the heat, I called a friend who was available to ‘walk the mall’.  I was cheerfully surprised.  I arrived around 8:30am.  The mall was open but the stores weren’t; less distractions and no shoppers.  The flat floors, cool air, and fun company made it worthwhile.  We knocked out a half hour in what felt like fifteen minutes.  I have found the alternative to exercising in the heat!  And, the rains are coming, we hope.  So, no excuses!  The mall is waiting!

Wisdom in Walking: Tool Against Depression

We all know that walking is good for us.  Some of us need to check with our doctors about that, of course.  Once found out, the question is, what is walking good for?  Today, from my experience, I want to share about that in a number of ways.  I, like many of us, struggle with depression.  And I’m on a mission to remain drug free in this arena.  (YOU have to check with your doctor about if that is a good idea for YOU.  I am not recommending that you do this my way.  I am merely sharing what I do, my goals and what I have discovered.  Use wisdom, my friends.  Work with your doctor and whoever truly can help you to decide what is best for you in this arena of exercise as part of your response to depression.  One of King Solomon’s proverbs of old communicates that it is through wisdom that a house is built, by understanding it is established and by knowledge shall its chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Isn’t that great?  So, let’s stick to the road of wisdom, understanding and knowledge in our journey with depression to mental health and what works best in self care and self management.)

Straight to it:  If I don’t get exercise, my mood plummets.  I have now worked up to one hour a day of exercise. Here, I’ll focus on three things:  Valuing myself. What happens when I walk. Having time.

I decided to value myself more in practical ways.  That decision came out of admitting that I have a problem with depression.  That allowed me to begin looking at what was needed to care for myself.  Regular walking has helped.  A lot.

So, what happens when I walk?  My mind clears.  My mood lifts.  I take a real break from what I was doing and from things on my mind.   I do not work out at a club, because it is not my style. I do what is right in front of me:  put on my shoes and walk.

Now, what about having  time? Friend, it is taking the time, NOT having the time. Being regular is key.  It has taken years, but the regularity of my walking seems to have had a deeper impact on my mind: the positive outcome and savoring the comfort of knowing that I have found another good tool helps me cycle upward, practicing improved health. Know this: What you value is what you will spend time doing.  Therefore, I have time to care for myself.  I gave up watching TV over thirty years ago and have no regrets.  I was a TV addict.  Sitting around for too long, ruminating on difficulties etc. are not the ways I want to spend my time.  Now, I steal from time wasters and use the time to walk.  Yes, I have time to care for myself.  I believe that I am wasting time if I am living in a depressed state when a walk would change that.

Big step.  I gave up chocolate and caffeine in October 2014.  I’d been fluctuating on doing both since around 1981.  I realized that I was a drug addict.  Yes: CAFFEINE.  So, I determined once and for all that there was no turning back.  Walking is one of the things I do in place of both.  Though I still have strong cravings, they are less frequent.  Also, my mind is in a better place.  I am more centered, clear thinking, less impulsive and making better decisions because I am caffeine free.  I prefer these qualities to addiction.

As I change my habits toward better care of myself, I am happier.  And I’d rather be happy than caffeinated or depressed.  I plan to continue to walk this way.



Walking at Work?

Ever had a walking meeting?  No kidding, I have!  Years ago I worked with a behaviorist for fifteen minutes a week to add techniques that might combine communication and behavior strategies for a severely autistic child I was seeing for speech therapy. Instead of sitting in a windowless, tiny room with pen and paper or computer to brainstorm, we began to walk the school campus to discuss the needs.  Wow!  What a difference it made!  It seemed we were more creative, less tense outside, could glean ideas from locations we passed to use with the student on campus, got some exercise and had more fun!  We also returned to the next task with new vigor.  Give it a try!  It works and is work. It’s not a break as some might see it.  You might want to keep it under the radar if there are those who have difficulty thinking outside the box.  Enjoy the many benefits in how it enhances your work and your life!  Something small but good to look forward to.

Planning Needed for Urban Walkers

Construction on the Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles!  Bus late on Bundy and Venice!  Rain!  I’m noticing the need for planning my transportation more thoroughly as I want to meet my appointments and activities.  How?  Here are some ideas.

Plan your trip in advance; at least the night before.  Include the planning time in your calendar.  How much do you want to walk and get your exercise?  I often walk a mile or more to a next bus stop.  Saves a bit of bus fare too.

Be prepared for weather changes.  Yes, you may look unusual in fold up tented rain gear.  But I’d rather stay dry and healthy than be concerned about that!  And, wear a pair of waterproof boots when the weather is uncertain.

Read the flyers that come to your home about construction in your area.  They should have the phone number of who to call about what side of the street sidewalks are open for walking.  Or plan to take a parallel street bus.

Be sure to arrive at your bus stop five to seven minutes early.  The Los Angeles buses do a great job of being regularly on time from my experience.  But sometimes they are early and I’ve missed them by two minutes.  And, yes, sometimes they are late so look at the schedule and be honest and realistic about the need to be truly on time for your destination.  Plan accordingly.

Turn your phone off when walking.  Save yourself an accident by being alert.

Remember that you are worth the trouble of planning for health, safety and timeliness.

Why I Walk

Traffic is not my friend. I walk to diminish it, avoid it and live with less stress. Other benefits, which you already know: less gas expense, pollution, wear & and tear on the car; more exercise without a $$ gym membership. Always sounds good to me! Are you willing and able to choose and practice one small new habit of walking more and driving less? I’d luv to hear when you decide!


Walk Which Way?

Whether Purposeful Walking, Free Walking, Meditative Walking, Prayer Walking, Fast Walking, Carefree or Careful Walking, or Combo Walking, I am an Urban Walker and I walk a lot.  Want to join me? Which way do you want to walk?  Here are some mindful categories to get you started or upgrade your walking style.  Exercise becomes a lifestyle that just goes along with your walking-as-transportation goals.

Purposeful Walking:  The underlying purpose of walking is, for many, exercise.  In this post, Purposeful Walking is walking to accomplish a task substituting walking for metal, motored transportation.  Walking to Trader Joes, the dentist, a friend’s for an early dinner, the pool, work, in the place of driving or taking the bus is Purposeful Walking.    As you start out, this may feel brightly novel and life changing.  Keep it going and it will slowly expand and become a healthy, economical and ecologically sound lifestyle.

Free Walking:  Need a break? Want to avoid eating?  Bogged down?  Need a clear head, refreshment, or mental and environmental freedom? Just walk, let your thoughts wander, laugh, stretch and return to finish what else you need to do.

Meditative Walking:  A good example of this is walking home from church and reflecting on the sermon.  I can do that now.  When I began walking home from church, my thoughts would buzz and hop from one synapse to another.  I would try numerous times to bring it back to the sermon and fail.  Now, I can reflect longer.  That took years.  FYI, I don’t walk the 3.5 ish miles home from church every Sunday: maybe once every six weeks.  But, with that and all the other walking I do, my mind is now calm enough to keep it on a topic.

Meditative Walking also includes memory work:  a scripture, a poem, a communication that I need to plan for are things that I meditate on during these walks.

Prayer Walking:  Obvious, but how?  I walk and pray for the people I see, family members, issues in my life and the lives of others.

Fast Walking:  Again, obvious.  Yet, here.  Sometimes I leave a few minutes later than I should to get somewhere so that I’ll have to walk faster to be on time.  Good for waking up, exercising, or competing with yourself to put a bit of novelty in the walk.

Carefree Walking:  This in similar to Free Walking, but you aren’t escaping.  You have no cares (for a moment 🙂 and walk to enjoy creation, people, buildings, your town.  Expand your thankful, grateful thoughts and heartfelt appreciation for… ?

Careful walking:  Watch where you are going, what is around you, beneath you et al.  This is important to include in every walk.

Combo Walking:  Mix and match.  Fast Walking with Prayer Walking.  Prayer Walking with Meditative Walking.  For example, as I meditate on a scripture, I may think of someone it reminds me of or see an area in my life that needs prayer, so I pray for that person or my need.

Walking, as you see, is more than exercise.  It’s a state of mind.

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountainare the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”