Shinrin-yoku - forest bathing
Forest bathing is a Japanese practice of walking in the woods to experience your 5 senses. It is slow, mindful, and full of peace.
Plenty of studies show that being in nature is good for us. It’s calming. It’s stabilizing. It’s grounding. I just feel like I can breathe. It gives the chance to slow down, enjoy, be aware of your surroundings.
We’ve been on purpose with walking in nature weekly for almost 10 weeks now in total. I’m proud of that considering it was through the holidays. We have really enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed walking and at different times in my life, it has been a regular part of my routine. I’m happy that it is again. In my blog today I want to share the 3 reasons I LOVE walking and my favorite hike to date.
Reason 1. It’s cheap.
I actually don’t enjoy spending money - it makes me nervous. I’ve lived through some pretty intense hard financial times and so I get anxiety if I start to feel like I’m spending too much. This is a complete internal thing. I don’t have that same strain on my finances anymore but it’s work to not let that anxiety take ahold.
But with walking, it doesn’t matter.
It costs nothing to go for a walk/hike.
You can walk around the block, around the building, through a cornfield.
Whatever - it’s free.
AND you don’t need any equipment. I can walk in shoes and whatever clothes I’m wearing. I don’t need expensive shoes, I don’t need special clothes.
I probably wouldn’t CHOOSE to walk in heels for a long period of time but I can, and I have.
One time in Washington DC for a conference I walked several blocks in my heels from the hotel to the conference center. Not the most comfortable I’ve ever been - but I did it, so it is possible
In truth it was so uncomfortable I walked back barefoot but that’s another story.
(No haters, that's just how it went down.)
I think this might be what I have enjoyed the most about walking. It requires almost nothing from me to do it except my time. No special equipment. No special anything. Just walking. You need shoes and time.
Reason 2 - Anyone can do it. Seriously
This is true. My step-daughter has CP. Walking is hard for her. Walking long distances is VERY hard for her. But we have a wheelchair for her and she loves “walking”.
You also don’t need to be incredibly fit to walk. It’s not like running. In fact, I’ve heard from more than one expert that just walking once a day would be the single best thing that could positively impact your health.
So you can’t let physical challenges hold you back. You CAN DO THIS. And it feels good to walk once you get going.
The only thing you need to be aware of is that if you do need a chair or other supports to walk then you choose your walking route with care. But there is plenty to find. And each has something cool about it. (see reason 3)
These kinds of needs generally mean you should focus on paved trails, roads, or sidewalks.
It doesn’t matter your age or your ability. You can get outside and enjoy moving about in some sort of way. Even if it is using a walker, cane, crutches, or a wheelchair. You just have to choose to do it.
I will admit to being fortunate and have lots of paved trails in my area. A good majority of them are very beautiful. Living in a densely populated area or large city can help with this too. There are generally paved places to walk everywhere in cities. If you can, try to find some green space or quiet space but if not just getting outside however you can be helpful and fun.
Reason 3 - You can walk anywhere
The Japanese practice of forest bathing is really about connecting with nature. And having the ability to do that is incredible. How much access you have to natural spaces is hugely dependent on where you live though. Some cities don’t have lots of natural spaces, and it can make it feel like walking isn’t helpful.
But I call bullshit again. You can walk anywhere and get rewards. ANYWHERE.
If you do live in a city do what you can to find small little places of quiet and WALK to get to them. It doesn’t have to be big and grand. A small courtyard. A little path. Hell, even a cemetery can get you away from busy bustling crowds.
If you live in a country area, walk through fields, pastures, wetlands, whatever.
Dude you can walk ANYWHERE!
And if you have a mobile device there is an AMAZING app I’ve recently discovered that can help you find places to walk. It’s called AllTrails and if you’ve never used it and you are interested in walking I really recommend it. It’s totally FREE (walking is so cheap).
Now I’m very fortunate to live in an area that has a multitude of beautiful green places to walk. We have some lovely trails around lakes and streams, through woods and state parks.
My favorite walk/hike recently though is just right around the corner of our home. In fact, we can walk to the trailhead from our house. I like it mostly because it’s easy to get to and a large majority of it is paved. It’s almost 4 miles long and I’ll admit we haven’t gotten through the whole trip yet because the parts that AREN’T paved have been very muddy.
It cuts through some really nice wooded areas and it also runs through some neighborhoods. There are a few tiny streams and the other day I even saw a tire swing someone had run-up. :)
My son likes this walk because it’s long and easy to navigate. He loves walking. It’s one of his favorite things. There are some wooden bridges on the path as well and he likes running across them and the sound they make.
We walked it a few weeks ago early in the morning and there was just enough ice on the bridges that we could almost skate across them.
On our last walk through this area, we were even graced with an amazing visit from a bald eagle swooping right overhead. It was incredible. I so wish I had been fast enough with the camera on that one. That would have been an epic picture.
So there you go. My top three reasons for why walking is the shit, why you should do it, and my favorite walking/hiking trail to date. We have plans in the future for doing an all-day hike of more than 10 miles. I’m really excited about it. We will wait till the weather gets a little warmer and plan a picnic during the day. It will be a really great time.
Leave a comment below and let me know if you like hiking/walking and where you like to go.
Don’t forget to like and share and as always guys,
Check out the video at https://youtu.be/00Guwm_bFro