• Wis Outdoor Explorer

Let's Go for a Walk

There’s a certain freshness with the start of a new year. I like to look back at the past year and see what I can improve on and what I want to accomplish. One thing that I’m always trying to improve on is my health. Working on being healthy has help me in numerous ways. It’s allowed me to hike longer, be more active with my family and just enjoy the outdoors more. But what if you’re not quite where you want to be health wise or you’re not sure you can handle a five-mile hike on various terrains? It’s ok, I’m here to tell you that with time, you do exactly what you want to outdoors and it all starts with a walk.

My usual walking partner. She loves a good walk!

The me preface this by saying that I’m not a health coach or a health expert in any way. Make sure you check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.

Living and eating healthy is something that I struggle with daily. I do however look for ways to improve my health so that I’m able to do the things that I want to do now and in the future. I’m hoping that by taking care of myself now, I’m able to go on walks and hikes into my later years. To do that, I started walking.

I realize that some of you are in great shape and that this post probably won’t resonate with you. But before you move on, maybe this will help someone you know. Someone you’d like to spend more time with in the outdoors. In my opinion there are more than just health benefits to walking, so maybe you will pick up a few ideas that will help you along the way too.

There are many ways to get out and start walking. You can join a gym and walk on a treadmill or purchase one for your home. I have one and use it when the weather is bad or I can’t get out for a walk during the day. The key is just to start. If you’re goal is to start hiking and you’ve never hiked before, walking can be a great way to start building up some stamina. Maybe you’re first walk is only a short walk. That’s ok, we all have to start somewhere. As you walk more, go a little farther each time adding distance and even a little speed. Time yourself and see how long it takes you to do the same walk each day and see if you’re improving. The more distance and time you keep adding will get you closer to your goal of hiking that certain trail you’ve always wanted to hike. The goal is to build stamina so you won’t tire out too quickly.

Winter walks have their challenges.

However, there is something special about getting outside and going for a walk. Breathing in that fresh air and walking outdoors adds so much more to the experience. But for me one of the benefits of walking outdoors vs indoors, is building up a tolerance to the weather. The more you’re out in the elements, the more your body begins to get use the temperatures you’re walking in. I’ve heard many say in Wisconsin that in the winter you’re blood needs to thicken up to tolerate the colder temps and, in the summer, it thins back out to keep you cooler. It really doesn’t matter if this is even remotely accurate, because we’ve all experienced it. 50 degrees in the spring feels much warmer than 50 degrees in the fall. It’s because our bodies have adjusted to the environment that we’re in. Walking outside does this for us. It’s helps our bodies get used to the current conditions that we are in and helps you build up a weather tolerance. I’m not saying you’ll be able to walk in shorts and a t-shirt in 20 degree weather, but maybe you’ll be able to be outside longer in the winter if you’ve allowed your body to be outside and experience the cold on your walks.

Going for a walk a few times a week has made hiking much easier for me.

Another thing that I like to use my walks for is to test out my equipment. This can be anything from shoes to camera straps. Trying out a new pair of shoes on a short walk lets me know whether or not their going to work on a longer hike. How many times have you got something new, taken it on a long hike and after a short while realized that it’s not going to work? Now you’re stuck with that item until you get back to your vehicle. Why not use a walk to try new things. I’ve tested the best ways to carry my camera, tried different items of clothing and broke in new shoes on some of the walks I’ve taken around my neighborhood. It’s allowed me to test them out and not have to worry about getting too far only to realize that having it along wasn’t a good idea. And now with the cold weather, I’m always trying different combinations of clothing layers to see which ones will keep me warm yet allow be to cool down if I’m starting to get too warm. So even if you’re a season hiker or outdoors person, going for a walk can have some benefits to you when it comes to gear.

One of the things that I really enjoy about going for a walk is the time it gives me. If I walk in the mornings, it allows me to prepare for my day and think about the things that I want to accomplish. If I’m going for an evening walk, it lets me wind down and relax after a long day. One way or the other, it gives me time to myself to focus on life and me. Somedays, I like to listen to a podcast or two while I’m walking and others I will listen to the world around me.

If you’re not into walking alone, find someone who will walk with you. Some of my favorite moments are when my wife and I share a walk together. It gives us time to catch up on each other’s day and talk about the needs of our family.

Whether you’re just starting to explore the outdoors or a are a seasoned outdoors person, a walk can be a great way start out or try new things before your next all day hike. And it’s a great way to get outdoors and start exploring.

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