Take a hike

Has anyone ever told you to go take a hike? They may mean to buzz off, but truly they are offering great advice.

A hike is the best thing you can do. Studies upon studies show the benefits of being in nature. Breathing oxygen deep into your lungs changes your body chemistry and calms the nerves, slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and stops the mind from racing. To regain a healthy perspective, the best you can do is go take a hike.

If you don’t have a park or woods nearby, taking a walk is just as good. Strolling the neighborhood is good for body, mind, and spirit.

Again, there are studies (sign me up to be a part of these fun studies!) that show all you need is twenty-six minutes out walking for optimal health benefits. In slightly less than a half hour, you can get the oxytocins (feel-good chemicals) flowing.

If you are wanting to lose weight, 26 minutes of brisk walking with the arms swinging does the trick. If you are simply wanting to lose the weight of the world, go for a walk.

When I feel tension creeping in, walking is a magic cure. To ward it off and stay in a good place, a daily morning walk is a wonderful prescription. The worrisome thoughts fade away with each step and the peaceful thoughts drift in.

If you are fretting over something, go for a walk. Let the inner chatter have its say, and then it let dissipate. Breathe in the air. Be in the moment. What do you see? What do you hear?

I know a gal who loves walking her small downtown each morning. She enjoys people watching, random conversations, and taking her breakfast with her journal at a local coffee shop. That feeds her soul as much as a walk in the trees.

What does it for you? Experiment. Do you like a morning walk? An evening after dinner walk? Do you like to walk alone? Do enjoy another’s company?

A word to the wise for all you who walk with pals. The stride time is to clear out, not to rehash. You are letting go of worries, not taking on more. If the conversation starts to do down a negative path, switch it back.

The walk is not a gossip session or a time to gripe.  It’s a time to thank our bodies for the ability to move, and to enjoy all our senses. Guide the conversation with “What’s new and good?” It may take time to get everyone on board with this, but everyone will feel better. If your walking partners do not agree, find new partners or walk alone.

As you stroll, notice the flower gardens. Notice the squirrels scampering. Notice the birds and the various noises they make.

Maybe you take a walk on your lunch break. Use the time for its whole purpose. You are doing something good for your body by getting out and moving. Let the walk do the same good for your mind. Let go of the tension and breathe in calm.

If you have trouble getting to that place inside, think the words “thank” and “you” with each footstep. Even if you don’t know what you are thankful for at the moment, saying those words will shift your internal energy and you will return refreshed.

The next time someone says, “Go take a hike” simply smile and say, “Great idea!”

(Kelly Epperson Simmons is a writer/speaker/listener and happiness expert. Go to www.kellyepperson.com to download your free copy of her ebook “7 Steps to Being Happy Right Now.” For life coaching or speaking engagements, call toll free 888-637-3563 or write info@kellyepperson.com)