Health, Reflections

Three benefits of walking six miles with a loved one

An egret takes flight from the Grand Basin in Forest Park. Photo credit: Enrique Serrano Valle.

What possessed me to suggest taking a long walk on a Sunday morning? That I can’t remember. But I do know that somehow, I convinced my husband to give it a try. A year later, we continue our weekly walking dates.

Our outings began in August 2017 in Forest Park, an oasis of nature in the middle of St. Louis. Larger than Central Park, it only takes one loop to make six miles. Plus, it has always been one of my favorite places. It even has a role in my first novel, a work that I’ve been revising and finalizing for a new release.

August in St. Louis is oppressively humid, so at first, we stuck to walking. However, as the weather got cooler, it became easier to jog at intervals during our trek.

We walked in the heat. We walked in the rain. We walked in cool weather. We walked in the snow.

However, when it got around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or even colder, we took our walks to the mall. Spending an hour and a half outdoors in frigid temperatures was a bit too much to ask of my husband, a native of Spain.

We’ve missed our weekly date a handful of times — usually due to vacations or illness.

But the benefits that come from our routine keep us heading out every Sunday morning for a stroll. Here are three worth considering.

A spring view of The Muny gazebo in Forest Park. Photo credit: Geri Dreiling

1. Strengthens relationships.

Getting out of the house, and ignoring one’s phone, encourages conversation. We talk about everything ranging from the trivial to the essential. And I am reminded weekly why in fell I love with him.

As a bonus, if there’s something sensitive we need to discuss, a side-by-side stroll is the perfect setting for it. Research backs up this proposition. According to Christine Webb, a researcher and postdoctoral fellow:

“When you’re walking with someone, you just feel like your forward momentum is not purely physical, but also psychological. You begin to feel more connected to the other person.”

A summer view of The Muny gazebo in Forest Park. Photo credit: Enrique Serrano Valle.

2. Spending time in nature.

We’ve seen monarchs fluttering in fields of flowers, white egrets taking flight over ponds, and we’ve even watched a large hawk standing on the grass enjoying its Sunday brunch.

We are surrounded by the pinks and whites of spring, the lush green of summer, the oranges and yellows of fall, and even the gray of winter.

As Mary Davis observed:

“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”

A winter view of The Muny gazebo in Forest Park. Photo credit: Enrique Serrano Valle

3. Maintaining good health.

We track our time using Map My Run to push ourselves to keep up a challenging pace. When we jog at intervals, we intensify the cardio workout.

Our six-mile walk is just one part of my fitness routine. I also practice yoga, jog, lift arm weights and do some abdominal work each week. However, the walking has kept my legs strong and lower body toned. Even better, the back pain my husband was experiencing stopped after our walks began.

Quoting Noel Clarasó, my husband said:

“El cuerpo, si se le trata bien, puede durar toda la vida.”

“The body, if it is well cared for, can last a lifetime.”

Do you talk regular walks or go on walking dates? If so, what benefits have you experienced?

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3 thoughts on “Three benefits of walking six miles with a loved one”

  1. I walk because jogging/running, although chic among several of my friends, didn’t bode well for my specific type of back issues.

    When I visit my daughter in NYC, we walk. Memories of going through Central Park, quiet moments, then sudden spurts of thoughts she wanted to share, I still remember how good it felt.

    The Noel Claraso’ quote – this nurse loves it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Susan, I also enjoy walking with my kids.

      When my daughter was in high school, we walked quite a bit. It was one way we could talk about sensitive topics in a more relaxed environment.

      And as you note, running or jogging doesn’t work for every body. Walking is an excellent alternative with many health benefits.

      Thanks for your comments — and for sharing the lovely memories of your walks in Central Park with your daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

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