Relationships

A Daily Ritual That Makes You Smarter

A Daily Ritual That Makes You Smarter

It takes less than 30 minutes…

For decades, my mom has gone on a walk every day NO MATTER WHAT. I’ve seen her off during ice storms, thunderstorms and even her own holiday cocktail party. “They’ll never notice,” she laughed as she headed for a stroll around the block.

“There are three quick fixes for most of what life throws at you: a stiff drink, a nap or a walk,” she told me. “Usually, the walk is the most appropriate.” For her, even five minutes outside can reset a day. “It’s therapeutic. Plus, nothing gets you out of a slump like seeing the Melton family down the street laughing at their flickering TV. You can see what the entire neighborhood is up from their windows during dusk.”

This winter, I’ve taken up my mom’s tradition, and no surprise, she was right. An evening walk has become a precious part of my week. Even on the nights I would rather to do anything but, I always come home feeling on top of the world. (And I get to listen to this!) So, in order to inspire us all into taking more walks, here are three more convincing benefits:

We’ll be straight-up geniuses. Have you ever been stumped during the brainstorming phase of a project? Take a lap… anywhere. Says behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo, “A person walking indoors — on a treadmill in a room facing a blank wall — or walking outdoors in the fresh air produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting down.” (A blank wall!!!!)

We’ll make our bosses love us. This 2015 study found that a lunchtime stroll can immediately “buoy people’s moods and ability to handle stress at work.” After a 30-minute walk, participants felt more focused, engaged and enthusiastic at the office.

We’ll get stoked. Moving for just 12 minutes promotes positive emotions like joy and excitement in people, even when they are expecting the opposite, according to a 2016 study. Another study about the walkability of cities found that when someone switches from a long commute to a walk, “their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love.” And there you have it.

Lastly, as Albert Camus said, “Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies… Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self… you need to breathe. And you need to be.”

Do you like taking walks? Do you have any other routines you swear by?

P.S. Advice to my younger self, and how to be an introvert in NYC.

(Photo by Joel Meyerowitz.)

  1. I am a huge proponent of walking. I have two 20 minute breaks during my work and I almost always take a walk during both breaks. I sometimes even walk during my lunch hour and in the evening with my family. I savour the fresh air and enjoy all kinds of weather. I’ve solved many conflicts, thought through many speeches and writer’s blocks and have been inspired by nature so many times on my walks. It truly is therapeutic.

  2. Christine says...

    Yes! Totally agree. I started this when my first daughter was an infant (I swear it helped me survive those early sleep-deprived days!), and it’s a habit I still do. Nothing has helped me physically or mentally more than this!

  3. Katelin says...

    omg! thank you for sharing this. i remember sitting in pre-marital counseling with my future husband and the counselor asking, so what did you like that your mom or dad did in your marriage to deal with fights? I responded immediately with “a 30 minute walk” and quickly implemented that into our marriage.

    walking has been a life-saver for me. it’s a therapy technique, a chance to take a deep breath or to get your blood flowing. it’s a chance to be alone or a chance to walk along side someone you care about (or even a walk with a random co-worker to lunch). but it’s a chance to feel your own feet beneath you or feel the power of two walking alongside one another.

  4. Tara says...

    I walk every day, one mile. Usually indoors when chilly but outdoors if I can. Sometimes headphones and music and sometimes I leave the headphones on and turn the music off. And I just listen to the nature as I am walking. It changes my outlook but most importantly at 55 it ensures I am keeping my gate for older age. You really need to think about that, losing your mobility as you age is something that will inhibit your happiness.

    • MJ says...

      Yes!! After I came home earlier this week from work I realized that only 1 patient out of 15 (in an acute care hospital) I had seen that day could even turn to their side in bed. How sad and isolating if you can’t even get out of bed.

  5. Caitlin says...

    Just today I got out for a walk with my dog for the first time after having my first baby three weeks ago. It really did make me feel so much more relaxed and like myself. My husband and mom have been amazing about getting our pup plenty of exercise while I rest, but I have been antsy to get back out there! All through pregnancy we would walk through the park down the street for 30-45 minutes a few times a day, and I’ve missed it so much these past few weeks. It really is for me as much as (or more than) the dog!

    • Amanda says...

      On my first well baby check up with my oldest son, the doctor wrote a prescription to go for a walk outside, with the baby, everyday. He said it would help us both develop into better versions of ourselves. It is still the best thing a doctor has ever done for me.

  6. my fitbit is set to remind me to walk every hour, only 250 steps but it does make me get up from my desk. i don’t know how my mood is, but my stiff hips thank me.

  7. Sarah says...

    I absolutly love hearing about my fellow walkers out there and their walking routines. I walk with my dog before my kids and husband wake up. Then on Saturdays I call my mom and we both walk and talk for 5 miles in different states. Fresh air, excercise, connection…. it’s a lovely part of the week. Thanks for another great discussion COJ ♥️

    • Noelle says...

      Love your Saturday walk talking to your mom! So sweet and great idea!

  8. Jen says...

    I love your mother’s advice. Combining her fixes would make for a powerful remedy: take the healthy walk first, then chase it with that stiff drink, and follow it with a good nap. Ahhh! Anyway, I love learning that you have incorporated her wisdom into your daily life, and am enjoying reading all these wonderful walking stories in the comments! Thank you!

    • Maria says...

      This made me laugh out loud – and sounds like the most amazing day ever!

  9. Katie says...

    On weekends sometimes I don’t want to leave my apartment AT ALL. I can watch 8 straight hours of TV/Netflix/etc. if left to my own devices. But I’ll usually force myself at some point to go outside for something, even if to just walk around the block, and I always think, “I didn’t realize how bad I needed this.”

  10. Misha says...

    I would seriously buy a book of all these comments! It’s the third time I’ve come back to read more of them. All the little snippets and scenes from each person life are so beautiful and inspiring.

    • Ellie says...

      I fully agree Misha!

  11. Bren says...

    I love that you posted this! Today I FORCED myself to get on the treadmill (outside is better but I have a 2 and 4 year old and sometimes the treadmill is all I can do) and I started out so slow but I just kept telling myself, “keep going!!” and by the end I was fist pumping to Katy Perry and my kids were dancing around to the music and everyone was so much happier as a result!

  12. Faith says...

    My husband has been reading “Wanderlust: A History of Walking” by Rebecca Solnit and it is rich with beautiful quotes on this topic! We both loved this one, “Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented society, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking.” I loved this quote, too, “The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany.”

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love this, Faith!!

  13. First, your mom sounds amazing. Second, I live this way too and I couldn’t agree with her more. My dog, Hank, inspired me to live this way and now I am hooked. He inspired a ‘stop-to-smell-the-flowers’ routine too, which adds an extra therapeutic touch to any walk. This recently came in handy during the stress-induced holiday season, when I (regularly) found myself in need of fresh air.

  14. Ryal says...

    You’ve all inspired me to get off my couch-potato butt and lace up my sneakers. I used to walk 3 miles every day, and then it got too hot and I got too lazy. Thanks for the virtual kick in the rear!

  15. Caitlin A says...

    When significant discussions need to happen, my husband and I take a walk together. Rather than sitting across a table with eyes locked on each other during those emotional and vulnerable conversations, there is comfort in walking along side your partner. Aimed in the same direction. Together. Surrounded by the beauty of trees or buildings or bikes or commuters, we are humbled by our insignificance in the world and yet our significance in each other’s life — placing things in better perspective.

    • Faith says...

      Yes to this! I’ll never forget when my husband and I decided to move forward with a risky, cross-country move–we were on a long, evening walk through the city.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love this. xo

    • Jenna says...

      Love this!

    • Katie says...

      beautiful!

  16. Jennifer says...

    Yesterday, me, my 8-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son walked 15 minutes to go sledding at a nearby park on an unseasonably snowy day in Philadelphia. Waking and talking with them as the sunshine was melting the snow and making it glisten all around us, holding their sleds and watching these two little people in their adorable snow hats, coats and gloves brought such a feeling of bliss to me. It was one of those few precious moments that you stop and take in and know you will remember forever.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, jennifer, this makes me teary!

  17. Elise says...

    Oh, I love that others enjoy the ritual of walking. I have done so my whole life, with a dog or two at my side. I also loved an earlier article in which you extolled the benefits of talking to strangers. It amazes me how a 15 minute chat can be remembered for many years.

  18. lauren says...

    I walk on my lunch break every day no matter the weather for 20-40 minutes. It’s the best.

  19. Ellie says...

    Over the last year, I’ve really gotten serious about weekly/daily exercise – even if it is just a 20 minute walk around my neighborhood. The past year (well, three) have been hard for many reasons. Sometimes going on a daily walk is the only thing I feel like I can control in my life, and sometimes that’s just enough to keep me going.

  20. Marlena says...

    When I was a child and my grandparents would visit, my Grams would always take a short walk after almost every meal. It was such a foreign thing to me since it was not something we ever did but I’ve always remembered how Grams would walk into the house afterwards giggling with Gramps or just flushed and happy. Recently, our family moved up towards the mountains here in Las Vegas where it is much cooler than in the valley. One day, on a whim, I got everyone’s shoes and said ‘Let’s go for a walk!’. We are now hooked and are lacing up after dinner almost every night. We get to chat and just be, and our teenage son has begun joining us which has opened up dialogues that would never have happened otherwise. Our walks are gold to me and I now understand why my Grams loved them so.

  21. I’m currently interviewing for a job that would move us back to a major metro city from a more suburban/rural area. Instead of driving 60 miles a day by myself, I would have to use public transit and walk a lot more. Honestly it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to about that job, aside from the work itself.

    It’s also the thing I miss most from studying abroad in college. I lived in Salzburg, Austria for a semester and I would walk from the inn I was staying at to an elevator that takes you up to the Monchsberg, this park in the side of a mountain that faces the Untersberg, the highest peak of the Austrian alps. It was absolutely magical – if any of you ever have a chance to visit, don’t miss that!

    • sabrina says...

      Hey Bethany,

      I live in Salzburg, Austria and you reminded me again what a beautiful nature city it is. <3 Hope you got the chance to come bck one day!

  22. I love this post so much! It brings to mind my own mother, who is fanatical about taking walks as well. When my boys were little and she was looking after them, she would march around the house during their naps just to get her steps in!

  23. Amber says...

    YES! Growing up, my family (mom, dad, sister and I) always took an after dinner walk together (up our winding wooded country road, no matter the weather or how dark it was–and if we had company, they’d come along too!). Those walks are so nostalgic to me, especially now that my dad is gone, and are truly one of my favorite family traditions from my childhood (and going on a stroll after eating instead of just sitting down really helps with digestion and keeps the fun dinner conversation going!). Then as we got older, my mom walked 4 miles a day for fitness (up that same country road) and my sister and I went with her during our summer vacations. Those walks are where some of our best, most heart-felt conversations happened. Now I try to get out and go on a walk every day, whether it’s around the block or several miles–last year I made a goal to go on a mile-long walk (different than walking a cumulative mile throughout the day) every day in January, and I kept it up most of the year. A good podcast really helps motivate me to go if the weather sucks, and I love to stop and take pictures of pretty things (the cherry blossoms right now!), look at the neighborhood houses and gardens, and pet neighborhood cats that come to greet me.

  24. Anneka says...

    Get a dog! Then you don’t have an excuse.

    • Bridget says...

      Haha- yes! it forces you to take multiple walks a day :) (I have 2!)

  25. Last year, I was in an emotional slump and clueless about how to fix it. Then my husband and I started taking morning walks—a 40-minute loop in Prospect Park—and I was amazed by how profoundly and immediately it improved my mood. We still do our morning walk 2-3x a week.

  26. Laura says...

    I love walks, and I’ve found out some of the most interesting things about people by taking a walk with them. Currently, my walks are more on my own (lunch break, and to and from the gym), but I love them. And just as this article hints, I’ve had many quiet realizations while on a walk.

  27. One of the things I loved about living in Manhattan was my daily walk to & from work each day. It was my favorite part of the day: “me” time in which I could daydream, listen to podcasts, call my mom, and people watch as I walked from the west side, through Union Square and over to the east side… not to mention getting in some extra exercise. Now that I live father out in Brooklyn, I really miss the daily ritual, so I try to recreate it by hopping off the subway a stop early each way. It’s not the same, but it’s something, and a valuable part of my day.

  28. Erin in AZ says...

    We have two dogs and walk them every evening. Even if i’m not feeling it, the way they act when I even walk towards their leashes inspires me. Here in Arizona, during the summer it’s too hot to walk them around the neighborhood. Their little paws can’t take the heat held in the sidewalk/street (if you can’t walk without shoes, neither should your dog…) so we load them up in the car and drive to a nearby park. It seems like everyone else is doing it too! Kids playing, loads of dogs, people saying hello, there are even occasional food truck round ups! It’s lovely.

  29. One of the greatest parts of having a dog is how it forces/inspires me to go for a walk! Taking a long walk in the morning and little reset midday really helps set my tone and my mood for the rest of the day.

  30. I love taking walks, especially since I’ve been pregnant! Hiking is my favorite exercise, which in a lot of Southern California, is just glorified walking through the wilderness :) Beyond hiking, yoga, and running – walking while listening to a podcast is one of my favorite ways to unwind.

  31. Margie says...

    I started walking after my son was born, 34 years ago, as a way to take off extra weight from 3 pregnancies. I am not a fair weather walker but have walked through rain, sleet, hail, snow, thunderstorms, -20 and lower cold days and beautiful sunny days! Was not all sunshine as over those years, I have fallen and broken a wrist, got chased by a cross dog(s) almost got hit by a car, came upon my husband’s car in the ditch (not hurt!) I have cried and prayed and solved many a problem along my walk and if/when I miss a day, I want to get back at it. Doctor’s advice, don’t miss a day and if you do, don’t miss two! So start the tradition of walking and you will love it too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I have cried and prayed and solved many a problem along my walk… Doctor’s advice, don’t miss a day and if you do, don’t miss two!” = love this!!!

  32. Margaret Master says...

    My kids know taking a walk helps their perspective and the teens regularly will go out for a round. They also walk to and from school and we walk as a family. My oldest says often …. a walk fixes everything….

  33. I love a good walk. It truly does help your mood so much. I love taking a walk on my lunch break (only if I have a lunch that is not very messy and easy to eat at my desk after lunch break). I am lucky to work very near a bike path. It’s not convenient to walk to it but a 30 second drive leads me to the bike path. I usually walk along the road, but the other day I decided to try the other direction. It turns out it led to a beautiful, secluded nature path that runs along some train tracks. I even passed a cow pasture (Ohio) which was not surprising considering the area I live in but I had no idea that kind of serenity was available to me in the middle of the workday. I thought to myself I am going to come here every day if I can. But then I started to get nervous as women do in secluded areas (I already text my boyfriend every time I go on the bike path, just so someone knows that’s where I went) and thought to myself, next time bring a knife. Then a man came walking up with a big dog and I just about jumped out of my skin. Of course I was more scared at the man than the dog, at no fault of his own. Then I thought I will probably never come back here. I’m still undecided. It was so peaceful.

    • lauren says...

      I hate that women are taught to be afraid of the woods. I’m trying not to be. I carry pepper spray with me and if I ever feel anxious I hold on to it. If I get a seriously bad feeling I’ll leave. Reclaim the woods!

    • Lara says...

      Is there a co-worker who could go with you so you’d feel safer?

  34. Courtney says...

    I am a runner and I made a pact to myself to get up and go outside everyday. Even if I don’t feel like running or it’s my off day, I take a walk no matter what. I’ve done this in rain, ice, zero degrees. It has helped my anxiety everyday. The fresh air is powerful.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Agreed, Courtney!!!

    • Marcella says...

      Same!! I feel so much better if I start my day off with a run. I love being the only person awake on the street in the morning, and it’s so nice to get oxygen to my brain in the morning, haha.

    • Stephanie says...

      I call my running “the best therapy I never paid for.”

  35. I love walking– it’s the best way to explore a new city, or rediscover my own again and again. It was also invaluable to me during the first year of my son’s life; walking was how I coped with my complex emotions postpartum. If either of us was feeling stressed, I would pop him in the carrier and we would head out into the world. Whether the walk lasted two minutes or two hours (yes, sometimes!), we would bond, meet new people (other babies and dogs couldn’t resist us!) and I would talk or sing to him. In the winter (in Michigan) I’d pull on tall snow boots and zip us both into a giant wool parka and we’d tromp around our sparkling town. He would nap after a fitful night; we’d stop into a cafe and I would get hot chocolate and he would get some milk, too. When we was older, we switched to a stroller and spent whole days walking, exploring, ducking into various oasis all over town, seeing buddies along the way. Such a great way to get through an often trying time.

  36. Nina says...

    I love that picture.

    I walk every day. Mostly because I have a dog but it is a joy. I still remember being a little girl walking home from school and being amazed to watch the changing seasons especially when the green tips started growing on all the trees in spring. Today as we walked my dog wanted to chase a squirrel but I held him back but our cat, who likes to walk with us often causing people to exclaim because our dog doesn’t chase him, went after it…and got up the tree first! There’s the cat on the V of the tree looking down at the squirrel chittering away at him…and me laughing and laughing. What a good start to the day.

  37. Elise says...

    This speaks to me so much! I’ve started going on walks in the middle of the day – working in a small office, I get a bit stir crazy. Sometimes I don’t even take my phone (what?!). I’m able to reset, to breathe a bit easier and become more present, refreshed for whatever the day has ahead of me. I recently moved to New York and love that you can walk everywhere and discover so much on foot. Great post!

  38. Hope says...

    Joanna, this new habit is yet another sign you should get a dog! I love walking my dog, it’s cheap and effective therapy.

  39. I swear by my daily walk. It doesn’t hurt that I now live in a place where the daily walk is a pleasure, and I can vary it so much. But I’ve taken daily walks everywhere I’ve lived, including the small town where I would just walk around the same streets over and over again.

    I view my daily walk as a treat to myself.

  40. Clara says...

    I absolutely adore walking! I have a desk job and 4.5 years ago I committed to walking to and from work every day, in all weather. It is a 9km/two hour round trip, and these daily walks have become essential, delicious part of my life. For fun, I keep rough track of the distance I have travelled – I have now walked the equivalent of Toronto (my home city) to Vancouver and then down the west coast into southern Mexico. Soon I will be “turning around” to complete the east coast leg of this big lap of North America!

    • Faith says...

      You are awesome, Clara!

  41. My therapist suggested having a “just got home” ritual to help me break up my time between work and home. This could be having a cup of tea, a good stretch, or leafing through a magazine. I found that I was thinking about work while I was at home way too much, and this has helped me re-orient to my loved ones at home!

    • Emily B says...

      Love this! I’m going to try.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love this, Sandra!!! Thank you for sharing. xoxoxo

    • Thanks, guys! I would love to hear what you try :)

  42. Rachel says...

    One of my favorite daily rituals is taking my dogs for a walk before or after work. I’ll listen to podcasts or books on tape. Its so calming, and it seems like such a sensible, relaxed way to maintain my health when I feel like I should be at a spin class, but don’t really want to.

  43. Lisa says...

    Wow, that last point really resonated with me. Last month I switched from taking the subway from Soho to the Financial District to now walking (35 min each way, listening to podcasts) and honest to god, it has made me 10 times happier in my day-to-day life. This was SO on point for me!

  44. Jodi says...

    I always walk home from work every day, no matter the weather. I don’t live that far and there are certainly faster ways for me to get home, but something about that 35 minute walk does it for me. It clears my head, pushes my reset button, and I come home a nicer, more refreshed person. No matter what happened at work that day, no matter how frustrated I got by something, I’m a different person by the time I walk in my front door.

  45. Walks are a regular thing for me for exactly this reason — even just pacing a bit outside helps! I find I can’t really keep focus to do substantive work for more than 3 hours at a time (unless a deadline adds that extra push!). I went to school (and ultimately had my first job) at William and Mary in Colonial Williamsburg, and I can’t even count the number of walks I’ve taken there with colleagues and friends — at every season of the year. :)

  46. Sarah says...

    Four years ago I had a head injury from a car accident. I was taken off work for months. I couldn’t do anything too complex, so I filled my time walking around Toronto. I walked about ten kilometres a day. I craved it. Now the science is showing why!

  47. Lisa says...

    I love walking. I live in London, so just use public transport or walk. At one stage I lived somewhere where it was possible to walk home from work (if the weather was good) and I loved wandering around The City. It’s filled with so many beautiful and historic buildings. I had one colleague who used to walk everyday from The City to her home in Hampstead – 2 hours long! But she said it helped clear her head. When I was overdue with my son, I read that walking could induce labour, so I WENT for it, walking 1.5 -2 hours everyday. It was tough to get moving, but once I was off that was it. I loved that time, walking around listening to music and chatting to the baby, begging them to come out already

  48. Nectar says...

    I love taking walks without headphones. Makes me feel more present!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yes! It’s such a different type of walk!!! Good reminder, Nectar. x

  49. Brooke says...

    Walking is my favourite time to listen to podcasts. We have a dog which means we go for a walk at least twice a day. It can sometimes feel like a chore but once we are out in the fresh air (even if it’s freezing) I feel re-energized and I never regret going. It’s one of my favourite things to do with my husband. You can have some really deep conversations when you are walking side by side.

    I’ve also been trying to go for walks for at least 20 minute during my lunch. I’m a social worker and having that break and fresh air makes such a difference for my productivity and mood. I’m a better counsellor when I can get out in the fresh air!

    Definitely a walking convert and it’s nice to know the research supports what I’ve been noticing for a long time :)

  50. DL says...

    My daily walking habit started with my mom when I was little. Even in high school I would rush home for our walk and then head back out to hang with friends. As an adult I enjoy the time with my dog, listening to music or just listening to what’s going on in the neighborhood. I’m also proud at how committed I am to getting “my walk” in every day….no mater the weather.
    Great post!

  51. Maire says...

    I am diehard daily walker during the work week and am super lucky that my office is located right on a walking path! On days when it is too cold or raining, we also have a treadmill in the basement of the office building so I can get at least 30 minutes in no matter what, even though the outside stroll is always preferable. I also carry 1-2lb. handweights with me to get a little bit extra workout in.
    On the weekends, if there is nothing to do and the weather is pleasant, there is nothing more indulgent for me than taking a 2-3 hour walk on the trails by my house while listening to an audiobook and maybe stopping in somewhere along the way for a tea or a tiny snack in the middle or at the end of my walk.
    In the spring on the weekends, my best friend and I walk to meet up halfway between our houses and then we spend a few hours wandering around open houses in the neighborhood to get home or design inspiration.

  52. Sannie says...

    Nice post. Thank you for the reminder.

  53. Melanie says...

    I love this, and I love walking. And I would also add that offering someone who is going through a difficult time to go for a walk is one of the best gifts you can give.
    When I was in the second year of my PhD in engineering, I was going through a really difficult time. I had just separated from my then husband, and my beloved advisor and mentor that I had worked with for the previous 3+ years (including my Masters) had been diagnosed with ALS. After seeing his condition degrade for a year, he was going on extended medical leave to spend his last year with his family. I felt totally lost and at that point I had no idea if and how I would finish my degree. I was far from home, in a different country, at a top tier university that is known to sometimes be cold and difficult and showing any sign of struggle is seen as failure.
    At some point, I had a meeting with another professor on the project I was working on who sensed something was off, and instead of having the meeting, he asked if I wanted to go for a walk. So we walked along the river nearby for an hour on a beautiful day in April, and I told him what was going on “off-the-record” and he just listened. To this day, it is the nicest thing anyone has ever done in my 6 years of graduate school. Oh, and he became my advisor that day too and I’ll be defending my PhD in two months and heading off to start a faculty position. Woot woot! :)

    • I love this story so much. Such a simple gesture: a walk, and a listening ear. Congratulations on such a huge achievement!

  54. Lauren says...

    Such wisdom!! I am going to start hopping off the bus earlier and enjoy a long meandering walk home.

  55. Mallory says...

    In high school, my debate partner and I were the only policy debate team at our school and the only varsity two woman team. There were many obstacles to being the only team at the high school and we struggled with weekly feed back calling us “aggressive,” “shady,” and “evasive.” We conquered the challenges we faced through daily “walk and talks.” We strolled the hallways or grounds of our high school working through our problems. We ended our debate career in the top twenty teams in the nation.

  56. Lana says...

    Yes!!! I love peeping in windows at dusk (in a totally non-creepy way!), smelling fabric softener and wood burning stoves and feeling rejuvenated from the fresh air! It makes all the difference to “shake the stink off” and get outside. My girlfriend and I started a walking club in our street (a nod to The Blue Zones!) And last week was pretty chilly, so she made us mulled wine in to-go coffee cups and we walked, drank, and chatted the stress of the day away!

    • Kate says...

      I love this!! My husband and I used to live in DC and our favorite ritual was to stroll through our neighborhood at dusk. We could see through the windows of all the garden-level apartments (same as you – in a non creepy way!) and would chat about how they had the apartments decorated, how many people do at home workouts, smile at the fun dinner party happening on a Tuesday, etc. Now that we’ve moved back to Ohio that ritual has fallen to the wayside but one of my girlfriends just had her third baby and we have plans to start an after work walking club where we put some wine in to go cups, load her newest baby up in the stroller and wander through her neighborhood, catching up on life before we head our separate ways for dinner.

  57. Samantha says...

    I find walking or biking to work in the morning wakes me up gently and prepares me for the day ahead. I also go to yoga at lunch every day – sometimes I come back to the office so refreshed that I feel like it’s a brand new day!

  58. Lisa Marie says...

    I started walking 30 minutes early every morning after I retired last year. As someone said, it is my meditation and I enjoy our neighborhood and the few dog walkers I see. But, even better, about six months after I started walking, I went for my yearly physical, and my doctor pointed out on my blood work that my cholesterol number had improved significantly. It was fine before, but the daily walking obviously made a difference.

  59. Andrea says...

    The perfect reason to get a dog! Added bonus: strangers will smile at you and blow kisses to your dog as you walk around your neighborhood.

    • Brooke says...

      This is so true! We’ve met so many more people in our neighbourhood because of our dog.

    • So true! Adopting our pup 8 years ago was literally life changing. :)

  60. H. says...

    Walks are the best. I went through a really rough breakup last fall and walks were the only thing that could calm me down when I started to panic about everything I had to do to move out and start over. One of the nicest memories I have from that period is a friend coming over to just spend time with me during those early days, and when I started to get hysterical she suggested we go for a walk and it helped so much. Such a bright spot during a dark time.

    That said, I tend to avoid them when the weather is bad but this post is making me think I need to just suck it up and get out every day!

  61. Sarah says...

    I’ve been lucky enough to work at two colleges- one next to a nature path along the river and one next to a historic neighborhood- and I try to take walks as often as possible on my lunch break. One of the other benefits I have found is that it reconnects me with the weather. In my area of the country, we go from air conditioned houses to cars and back into buildings so often I find some of my co-workers don’t even know what the weather is like that day. Just 10 minutes outside can help knock off the articulate environment and remind me what season we’re in at the moment.

  62. I’ve sort of been doing something like this. In order to combat SAD this winter, I’ve tried to eat lunch outside every day that the sun is out, no matter how cold it is. After reading, I’ll try to combine it with a walk now, because it’s true, I always feel renewed and like I snuck a little secret into my day when I return to work.

  63. Thank you for the advice, it’s so timely. I take a lot of walks in the summer, but this winter I’ve been the worst at getting outside. You’re right though, it doesn’t have to be more than five minutes if it’s icy or wet. I want to make this a habit.

  64. Andrea says...

    I’m lucky to have a dear friend who lives in my condo complex. In nice weather we usually meet up 2-3 times a week for an evening walk. Since we both live alone, it’s nice to have someone to process your day with every once in a while.

    I have another friend who I used to meet at a local shopping mall after her babies were in bed for a walk. It was great for winter evenings, well-lit, people around, and out of the elements.

  65. Rachel says...

    Oh my goodness, I swear by taking walks like it is a religion! When I was working my 9-5 desk job in Boston, I routinely took walks during lunch in this beautiful, historic cemetery next to our offices. It was huge and always felt so calming, especially after sitting behind a computer all morning. I love walks :) now I’ve decided to train for a half marathon and it is not quite the same, but I actually get a similar feeling when I come back home. :)

  66. Emily says...

    I’m so lucky to work for an organization that values physical activity. Every morning at 10am and then again at 3pm in the afternoon there is a group that goes our for a 15 minute walk! It’s short but I’m sure we come back ready to accomplish way more than if we hadn’t gone out.

  67. Nishi says...

    we did this with our first child, it gave us time to talk and connect before the madness of the bedtime routine. thanks for the reminder that we should start this up again – even if it is still freezing outside. heck, maybe I’ll even try it during work again.

  68. I love this! I remember when I was working a stressful job at a bank, I’d work out at lunch. I’d run on the treadmill super hard for 40 min, do one quick set of arm weights (a diff exercise each day), a quick ab set, then back to work.
    The solutions to the biggest problems I was dealing with at work usually came to me during those treadmill runs. It so helped my ability to think not to have emails and IMs pinging away at my desk.

  69. Sarah says...

    One of the best things about having a dog… guaranteed walks, starting with an hour’s walk (or run) with my husband before work.

  70. shopgirl says...

    One of the reasons why I have a dog. At least once a day for a walk, regardless of weather conditions … the best ones are after work or in the evenings.
    Also for lunch breaks I always go to a more distant cafes, park or shop, not the ones close by the office ….

  71. Carolina says...

    Love this! Totally agree! My mom, me and my sister always went on an evening walk together and it’s one of my fondest memories! Also, the fact that is in the evening and not during the day makes it extra special. I don’t know why but it feels better :)
    Thank you for such a nice post!

    • Mandy says...

      This is so true evening walks are magic!

    • Ellie says...

      They are magical.

  72. I walk everyday from bus stop to work office and from bus top to home, I always walk as fast as a could, I guess I will walk slower today. Thank you for sharing the post.

  73. Hilde says...

    I love taking walks. Today I start my maternity leave and I’ll probably go for walks for a few hours every day until my baby comes out. I’m sure it will do us both good while preparing for the birth.

    • Anna says...

      How wonderful Hilde. This was my strategy as well.

      On my due date I had a doctors appointment – about 5km from my house. So I walked there. When I arrived they suspected I was low on amniotic fluid and they were concerned so they wanted to transfer me to the midwife centre where I was delivering so they could take a closer look and induce labour if necessary.

      The midwife centre was about 5km away from the doctors office and I was feeling bit nervous… so I walked there. On the way my contractions started. And I just kept on walking. The centre had a beautiful courtyard and a large garden so I just walked and walked pausing when I needed to pull it together to make it through contractions. My water eventually broke during my walking and I kept on walking until Push time.

      I had a beautiful healthy 4kg boy hours later- naturally. I credit all the steps I took for getting me through that labour.

  74. Laura C. says...

    I totally should be doing this. I really need to.

  75. Erica says...

    Yes! Love this. What a privilege to move our bodies

  76. Maria says...

    Talking about fresh air… In most parts of my country (Central Europe), from september to march air pollution exceeds the norms by 800, or even 1100% (I’m not kidding…).

  77. Katie says...

    I love seeing all the comments about walking with kids. For two years I’d take my toddler to daycare via a local bus route which required a walk to the bus and then from bus to school. Yes, mobilizing a toddler at times (no stroller!) was tricky but those morning walks were magical, both for our mood and the convos/songs/word games. I felt bad for the kids who “just” got a car ride ( we are very outside the norm for this routine). Kid #2 just arrived and I have guilt over ending the magic while on leave but hope to work up to one day a week that we are back to the bus and neighborhood walk before the true chaos of going back to work!

  78. Sarah K says...

    The last couple of years, my best strategy for surviving the long Chicago winter with sanity (mostly) intact has been to get outside for a walk every single day, regardless of the weather. I was inspired by reading that some Scandinavian country (maybe Norway?) has a saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” So I decided to really bundle up and get out there. Sometimes it’s been 10 minutes tramping through my yard in snow boots in when it’s 4 degrees and the snow is a foot deep. There have been a few days it couldn’t happen, but for the most part I’ve managed it and it helps so much. Fresh air, deep breaths, wider horizons. But of course, a summer evening walk with my family is by far better…one of the best things in life.

    • Martha says...

      I always say that! I never knew where I got it from but I attribute it to being from New England :)

    • Lisa says...

      This is so true – I was in Norway for work and had an extra day to walk around and explore. It was December, about 15 degrees and snow was on the ground and I was blown away at how many day cares and preschools were out with the kids taking long walks. It was like a light bulb moment in my head – they were all bundled up and loving life…if you have the right gear, there’s no reason not to get outside!

    • AMR says...

      I pass along that Norwegian saying to all new Chicagoans!

  79. Rez says...

    Love this! We take our girls for a walk a few evenings a week. Even though they’re riding in a stroller, we all feel more relaxed afterwards..

    I like the idea of an alone walk around the hood. I’m implementing it immediately- thank you Stella’s mom!

  80. I go for a walk every other morning (my husband and I take turns every other day with one of us getting exercise and the other getting our daughter ready for school). I treasure and look forward to my solo morning walks. It’s one of the only times during the day I can think clearly, which allows me to solidify jewelry designs I’m working on, or come up with new ideas, or make hard decisions. I get home refreshed and ready to take on the day.

  81. Katie says...

    This is such great advice. We have a dog and I walk him daily. After giving birth for the first time, I didn’t feel like walking and went a few days without a walk. And suddenly I felt terrible and overcome with all of the post-partum feelings. My husband took us all out for a walk and although I cried the whole way it was so great to get out. Now I never miss a walk, even after baby two I went out the same day we came home from the hospital.
    Walking connects me with myself. And I feel more connected with my surroundings, my neighbours and neighbourhood.

  82. Mimi says...

    So good! Recently became a 1-car family and it was the best decision ever! My 4 year old and I walk 2-3 miles a day and it’s been amazing. We have quality time walking together, we get exercise, and he’s so much happier and content at home. I. Am. Addicted.

  83. Louise says...

    I just got home after walking almost 40 blocks whilst chatting on the phone with a friend, so this was rather prescient! I lived in London and Paris before moving to Washington DC, and though it’s a fairly walkable city by American standards, I really miss having walking built into my day on my commute. It was a rare day I didn’t get more than 10,000 steps, and way more on weekends. Walking relaxes me, gives me time to process and reflect, and allows me time for all my podcasts! I love it and pop out every lunchtime, no matter the weather, for a march up and down the sidewalk outside where I work.

  84. Kara says...

    Yes, walking is so therapeutic! We’re in a tough stage with our 2.5 year old (the normal stuff you’d expect plus a new baby), and going for a walk, even for a short 10 minutes, helps him (and me) so much. With both my babies I’ve found that no matter how fussy they are/were, getting outside with them in a carrier or wrap calms/ed them immediately. My husband loves walks, too….now that I’m reflecting on it, I think it’s part of our family culture. We’ve always prioritized walkability when renting apartments, do it on vacation…and I still daydream about the best commute I ever had–a mile long walk to and from the office I worked in my early 20s. I loved it so much that I’d do it no matter how cold or snowy or rainy it was.

  85. Jen says...

    Love this…I’m a huge walker and was always considered an oddity in my office when I worked in one because I would opt to step out and get a walk in for 30 minutes rather than sit around inside.

  86. My work friends and I have a tradition called “rage walk,” where if one of us is stressed, one person will walk with them around the block until they feel better. We just go in a circle a few times. And we do it quickly, which is not particularly common in Texas as compared to NYC!

  87. Sasha says...

    Every single day. Three dogs, who don’t care if it’s muddy, slush, below zero, brutal wind chill, dark, dumping snow….. Or sunshine, butterflies and wildflowers. They are HAPPY to get out. We go about an hour on most days, except for the awesome days when we head for a trail and go for hours in the mountains, woods, along a river.

    It’s also the time when my husband and I really talk. I always feel better after a walk. I can’t wait for it to get a bit lighter in the morning and we will walk before we start our day too.

  88. I love this, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so glad I have a dog*

    That said, I’d rather do the worm down Santa Monica blvd for a mile than make my car commute from WeHo to Ventura County :)

    *There are lots of reasons I’m so glad I have MY dog <3

    • lol I just realized my second point isn’t clear…basically ANYTHING would be better than my commute, haha.

    • C says...

      Haha lol’d at this!

  89. Elizabeth says...

    I love walking and have always enjoyed an evening (or morning when I had my first baby!) walk. It’s so much harder to rally the troops (my 2 and 4 year olds) to go one walks before or after dinner these days, and I often think I wish it was easier because it’s such a nice habit. This post makes me want to figure out a way to make it happen!

  90. Whitney says...

    I’ve taken daily walks since high school (I’m 31 now). All through college guys quickly learned the best way to meet me and ask me out was to join me on my walks. And funnily enough, when I began dating my now husband, I stopped by his apartment and invited him on one of my walks, for the first time. When we said goodbye at the end of our walk he let out a big breath of relief and loudly said, “Geez, I thought you asked me on a walk to break up with me! I’ve been freaking out this whole time!” He was grateful to learn walking is just one of my “things”.

    • maggie says...

      haha i love this!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahaha, love this Whitney! Joanna and I were talking about how much Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice loved walking, too. And that moment she slayed Mr. Darcey with, “I’m very fond of walking.” Reminds me of you :)

  91. Ah ! I love that! My aunt does the same out in Ohio (not in icy days, for safety) , I go with her when I’m there. But then here in Cali I won’t…. back in Barcelona we walked everywhere. I think is a very European thing we do without thinking ablout it :) I miss that about living there

  92. Elise says...

    Inspired by this post, I just invited my husband on an evening walk through our neighborhood. It’s been a beautiful spring day in Seattle, and it looked like the clouds were clearing for a perfect sunset. Halfway through, it started to hail! Dime-sized hail (bigger than I’ve seen, being from California) poured down around us and we had to take shelter on someone’s porch. This evening walk made me so much happier than I anticipated, for the simple joy of a freak hailstorm and laughter with my husband. (No damage that I saw either)

    • Calley says...

      I was out walking my dog in this same hail storm! The sky just opened up.

  93. Sarah says...

    I could not agree more! My twice daily walks with my dog are my favourite part of the day. I never take my phone and I don’t even listen to music or podcasts anymore – I just walk along and look at the things she looks at! (although I don’t smell things quite as much as she does!!).
    The trainer whose classes we went to when my dog was only a few months old gave the most wonderful advice; she said “your dog’s walk is not about you”. Her intention was that we allow our dogs to stop and sniff whatever they want and not just pull them along in a rush. Dog’s need to sniff in order to learn from their environment. A relevant lesson for us humans too I think! Just walk and “be” and let your surroundings invigorate and inspire you.
    Lovely post Stella!

  94. Megan says...

    The podcast Hurry Slowly, by Jocelyn Glei, did an episode all about walking as it relates to health, balance, and creativity. It was amazing! (Episode 13: Walking Is the Best Way to Go Slow)

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Awesome, Megan! Going to check it out tonight. Thank you!!

  95. Alex says...

    Does a walking commute count? I walk to and from work most days – it’s about a mile each way. I haven’t really felt the refreshed or renewed feeling you all describe. Maybe it’s cuz i’m usually speed-walking home to relieve the babysitter? I actually miss my subway commute sometimes. I’ll try getting out for more leisurely strolls though. :)

    • Deb says...

      A walking commute is THE DREAM!

    • Amanda says...

      Yes, does a walking commute count? Similar to Alex, I often find myself speed walking home. Once I take care of everyone for the evening, I feel as though an evening stroll would be too self indulgent because walking home takes more time than the bus.

      As aside, every since I stopped using public transportation for my commute, I rarely ever get colds, flus, etc.

    • C says...

      I was thinking about this last night and while its awesome, I don’t think commute walks count for me personally! When I walk to and from work, I’m always carrying too many bags and thinking about what awaits me. Walks just for the sake of walking are much more leisurely to me.

  96. Love this, such beautiful advice! I’ve started taking my daughter to her daycare in the morning before work, which is a twenty minute walk. Even when the weather is unpleasant and getting out the door felt hectic, the walk is such a mood buster and I get to work feeling awake and ready for the day.

  97. Anna says...

    Yes! I love walks. As a child I always took an evening walk with my father – and still do when I visit! I recently moved to within a mile or so from the beach, so now I can walk there, sit a while listening to the waves, and walk back! Bliss.

    • Sasha says...

      That is amazing!

  98. Em says...

    YES! My husband and I try to go for a walk every evening, and I think it is one of the best things we do for our marriage. It’s the perfect low-pressure time to connect and talk about anything, from the mundane to the stressful!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yes!!! Agreed, Em! Something about being out of the house and walking side by side makes it’s such a special time to connect! Some of my favorite conversations in my relationship have been on walks :)

  99. Anna says...

    YESSSS. I’m a big walker. About twice a week (more in summer) my husband and I take an evening walk. Sometimes we go pretty far (on Tuesday this week we went 4 miles!) but a lot of times it’s just a stroll around the neighborhood. I love it, it’s sometimes the only time all week that we talk to each other without cellphones, TV, work stuff in the way.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Yesss!!!!!! Agreed, Anna! So, so true.

  100. Midge says...

    I love your mother.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Hahahah <3, sending this to her now, midge!

  101. Nicole says...

    So, so true. I started taking daily walks when I got my Fitbit, when my friends and I were competing on step count. My habit continued/escalated when I was pregnant- I walked outside every day on my work lunch break throughout my pregnancy. In fact, my water broke during one of my work walks!

    After having my baby, I took 2-3 hour long walks per day. With my son in the Ergo, we explored so many nearby neighborhoods, and I think I listened to every podcast on iTunes! I will always look back so fondly on that time with my baby, and I believe it helped my mood so much during those rocky, wacky, sleep deprived days.

    • Terri says...

      I completely agree. I started walking every day with my baby. It helped us both so much make it through the colicky days. We continued our tradition up until he was 5 when he could no longer fit in the stroller. I was so sad to lose my partner but kept up walking. This February when we had a lot of snow, he became interesting in walking to school and now we walk every day. It is great one on one time together to chat or just enjoy the scenery side by side. It is the perfect start to my day.

  102. jac says...

    I did a run/walk for at least an hour every day for 2 years. It was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life! Now I take my dog on at least 2 walks a day and it keeps me sane.

    • Misha says...

      That is so inspiring – two years!

  103. Megan morley says...

    I’m a true believer that any sort of movement is good for the soul. I am a runner but ever since me and my husband met we have been taking walks together. I can’t tell you how many life experiences we’ve talked about on our walks from our first travels together , to getting engaged, to getting married, to new jobs, getting in silly aruguemnts and just talking about our future lives together :) Your mom is a smart lady!

  104. AJ says...

    Yes! Going for a walk is always the answer.

  105. Maggie says...

    I was walking my parents’ dogs over Christmas when I realized – smack in the middle of Linden Lane – that I was head over heels in love with my boyfriend, and knew for sure that he was my one! When I walked out the door I was just a girl in like, and when I came back, I was a girl in big time love! The power of a walk :)

    • Sharon says...

      Love this!

  106. Megan says...

    I have suffered from panic attacks since I was a young kid and when I was 15 I went through a phase when they would wake me up in the middle of the night. Unable to sleep and feeling very unsettled I would pace to try and settle myself. My dad noticed this and started going for 3am walks with me around our neighbourhood. The quiet stillness was calming and having my dad beside me enjoying the quiet with me always helped to calm me.
    To this day walks are my go to when I’m starting to feel anxious or panicked.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, megan, i’m tearing up! your dad sounds like a wonderful person, and you sound so in touch with what you need.

    • Nancey says...

      I just love this in every way. When my Daughter was a baby and she couldn’t sleep my Husband and I took her out for late night walks and one night around midnight we went to the park and there were our neighbors doing the exact same thing! I called it ‘Desperate Households’ lol.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      This is so beautiful, Megan! Agreed with Joanna!!

  107. Katie says...

    At three weeks postpartum I talk about taking a walk EVERY. DAMN. DAY. And I rarely do. I need to be better about getting out of the house, without the pressure of forty mins spent loading up the stroller.

    • Anna says...

      Three weeks is so early! Don’t put pressure on yourself! Just rest & take care of yourself as much as you can! Hugs!

    • Alison says...

      First: yay, mama! Congrats on your new baby.
      Second: Three weeks? At three weeks postpartum, I was lucky if I did one independent thing a day, usually choosing between taking a shower or eating a meal. Don’t be hard on yourself.

      When you start feeling a little more adventurous, ditch the stroller and try a baby carrier – an ergo, a bjorn, a wrap, whatever feels best to you. Wearing my daughter (and later my son) was much more comfortable, meant less ‘gearing up,’ and usually meant that I could be out longer as my kid was just happier being snuggled up than in the stroller.

      Best wishes!

    • Sarah K says...

      Yes, three weeks is pretty early. Whenever your doctor gives you the okay, though, I think walking with a baby is one of the best things in the world. It always takes longer than you want to get out the door, but it lifts your mood and puts you in touch with the larger world, and it’s good for baby, too. I think when they are tiny having a good ergonomic baby carrier makes walks (and life in general) easier. You can feel their body temp, feel them breathing, adjust positions without stopping your walk, etc. I love a good stroller, too, especially for more vigorous exercise when they’re older–but my youngest is 4 now and walks with my babies in carriers are some of my sweetest memories. So worth it!

    • Sarah F. says...

      Anna’s right! No pressure. The 6 weeks postpartum should be dedicated to rest, figuring everything out and taking care of yourself. No guilt or pressure. It’s whatever you and Baby need. Carriers are always a great, quick option though, if you need some fresh air and if it’s a short walk or during a nap, you won’t need any gear :) All the best to you!

    • Sarah says...

      3 weeks postpartum here, too!! Do you have anyone around who can watch the baby while you go out by yourself for a few minutes? It’s been too cold here (Massachusetts) to bring my twins outside, but if I can bundle up and get out for even 10 minutes it makes such a big difference!

  108. MJ says...

    My 10 year old and I just started taking walks just before her bed time. It’s relaxing and refreshing. We get a chance to chit chat freely with out interruptions and like to guess what the neighbors are up to when we walk by!

  109. Flore says...

    I go for a walk every day after our lunchbreak with my colleages. We’re so refreshed and full of energy ready for the second part of the workday. When it’s pouring outside or it’s a day with deadlines and we don’t have make time for our stroll, someone will always say outloud: I missed our walk today and we’ll all agree. This little ritual started with me having to much energy to sit a full day at a desk. Now it has become a habbit that we really feel in our bodies and minds if we missed it.

  110. Lindsay says...

    I am a first year medical student and I have made it a habit to walk up the hill overlooking the hospital every evening at sunset. I stand there with my hands outstretched and pray blessings over the people inside – the thousands who have devoted their sunsets to healing and the thousands more who are savoring just a few more sunsets. It helps me refocus on the beauty of this Earth and the privilege of situating oneself within it.

    • A Martin says...

      Wow what a beautiful visual and reminder for gratitude!

    • Julie says...

      This is so beautiful. Thank you!

    • Renee says...

      I have to say I teared up at this comment. As a health care professional I appreciate that you do this. Really beautiful!

    • Paige says...

      Wow. Thank goodness for people like you, mindfully choosing to care of people and share your grace.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Beautiful, Lindsay. Thank you!

    • Wow, you have such a beautiful heart! This made me tear up.

  111. Julie says...

    My team at work is four women, and when the weather’s OK, around 3 PM, we’ll walk together in a loop around the block our building sits on. So nice. I look forward to it all day.

  112. K says...

    I walk every day. I say it’s for my beastie dog, and maybe it started that way. But now, it’s my walk and she’s coming with ME, not the other way around. Your mom is right- at dusk it’s great checking out the TVs in the window, but it always makes me think about my own tv at dusk! Now I know I’m not the only spy in town.

  113. I don’t “go for walks” per se, but I’m living car free so my kids and I walk everywhere. Whether it be just walking to school/preschool, running errands, or going to swim team after school, we usually walk at least 5 or 6 miles a day. It’s a great way to get a lot of incidental exercise and I love that my kids are so comfortable walking everywhere. Years ago we had friends from Australia visit us in San Francisco and they complained about how much walking I made them do while sight seeing. That night my friend sent me a message to say that it occurred to her later that while she was complaining about the walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and up and down a few city hills, my 7 and 4 year old kids walked just as far as she did and didn’t complain once. It inspired her to get out and walk more often instead of always resorting to the car.

  114. Kylie says...

    Walking is my meditation.

    • Sasha says...

      Yes.

  115. Andrea says...

    I just started doing an evening walk and love it. As the mom of a 7 month old, I’m exhausted at the end of the day and was falling into a lazy routine of watching tv once I put the baby down. Now, I put him down for the night, tie my shoes, and head out into some fresh air! It makes me feel like myself again :)

  116. Molly Vasich says...

    I do agree. As a distance runner, I will note that walks inspire quite a different energy than runs. After a run, I feel accomplished. After a walk, I feel renewed.

    • agreed, molly!

  117. eleanor says...

    I could not agree more — a walk or a nap can do wonders for our well-being. But please, please, please stop pushing the idea that alcohol offers any sort of fix to anything. It’s such a harmful notion.
    xoxoxo

  118. For me it’s a walk first thing in the morning, before I had a baby I worked from home – it really set me up nice and fresh for the day. Now I have a spritely toddler we try to get outside each morning, even if it’s just in the garden. I’ve had lots of epiphanies walking…including deciding to leave the city and move back to the welsh hills (here in the UK). As well as on some bad days it just makes it feel like you’ve accomplished something. Another lovely thing is thinking about how many times I’ve walked some loops around the canal, fields and hills where I live, especially when I was pregnant and now doing the same loops with the tiny human I created!

    • This made me smile. Thank you for sharing :)

  119. Lindsey says...

    I lived in Ottawa during law school and even though there was a bus to school right across from my place, I chose the 45 min walk every darn day. Even through blizzards. It was often my favourite part of the day. When my now husband and I were dating long distance, he’d often ‘walk me home’ after my late night class and my memories of walking in the crisp dark night with his comforting voice on the other end of the phone will stay with my forever.

    Ok, so that sounds cheesy, but it’s true!

    • Misha says...

      Not cheesy! It sounds lovely! ?

    • Sasha says...

      My daughter at college would call me from her walks. It helped her feel safer and was a nice time to connect. I tried to be that comforting voice.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      aww, this comment is so special, lindsey. thank you for sharing!!!

  120. Caroline says...

    Love this! I definitely agree. I worked as a Wag dog walker in NYC during college and those walks kept me sane/helped me keep things in perspective as a busy student!

  121. zivar says...

    i miss my evening walks.. just a lot harder with children and their earlier bedtimes. looking forward to returning to them when they grow a bit older.

  122. Anne says...

    I made a goal this year to take one outdoors walk every week! I haven’t quite kept up with it all the way, due to weather and cold. However, I have done a lot more walking this winter and I noticed this year winter didn’t seem quite as long and burdensome to me. I love walks!

  123. Jessica says...

    Yes! After living in the same neighborhood for the past 5 years and essentially covering off the same route 3-5 times a week it still amazes me how much there is to notice and appreciate in my immediate surroundings. Last week, after a long winter away, the Canada Geese arrived back on the lake I walk by. That means baby geese are on their way next. I am so damn excited for those baby geese to waddle across the path in front of me in the month to come ;-)

    • Sasha says...

      Baby geese ?

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      love this, jessica! baby geese!!!!!!!

  124. Chrissy shea says...

    I actually keep a “walking bag” under my desk to change into comfy clothes and walk on the treadmill in my office during my lunch break. I’m in an online MBA program right now, so I can knock out quite a few lecture videos in that 45 minutes, or if I feel like treating myself it’s netflix or Hulu :). I ALWAYS feel awesome after a lunch walk. The best part is I’m rarely sweaty after so I just change back into work clothes!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that you take a walk AND watch a show. ultimate relaxation! :)

  125. Tiffany says...

    I love a walk everyday. It helps that we have a dog who needs a walk, too. Sometimes we do a big hike through the woods, sometimes along the road, sometimes with a good friend (which is like a free therapy session), and sometimes with my boys (I always find out a little more about their school days this way). Thanks for affirming how beneficial a walk can be on a daily basis!

  126. T Barr Segal says...

    I’m always, “that woman with her boxer”, on our rural road. Everyday, even when I’m not, my girl is always enthusiastic about walkies!

  127. J ham says...

    Yep! I do two 45 minute walks a day with my dog, every day for the last 4 years. I leave my phone at home and don’t listen to any music. It is the best way to clear my head and get ready for the day. I often solve lots of problems while walking around the neighborhood and have had many work-related breakthroughs while on a walk (I’m an architect). If I need to think or pray about something serious that is weighing on my heart, I go for a walk. Though, I’ve found that more often than not, I cannot tell you what I spent that 45 minutes thinking about. ? it does help that my neighborhood is so dang cute.

  128. Amelia says...

    This is really cool. I’ve noticed this at work although I’ve thought of it more as just being outside (anywhere! For any length of time!) as the mood reset. I keep thinking that when I’m wound up about stress at work I go outside and see a tree and think “The trees really don’t care about whatever it is I’m worried about.”
    But I agree there’s something about a little walk that’s magical.

    • Sasha says...

      I’m adopting this: the trees are not worried.

  129. Sarah says...

    Love this! My mom has had a walking buddy (a neighbor who, like my mom, has 6 children!) who lives 1 block away, and for 35 years every morning they meet at the corner at 6am and walk the neighborhood. They have a signal that they call the house line once and hang up if they can’t make it, and now they also wear orange reflective vests to stay safe! I’m sure for my mom, and for Nancy, that the morning escape from our little houses of beautiful chaos was such a great way to start the day. I now live in SF and walk 40 minutes (literally uphill both ways, thanks SF hills) to and from work each day, and it’s the best way to start and end my work days.

    • Anna says...

      Oh I love that story about your Mom!

  130. Arianne says...

    Growing up my dad and I used to take a walk together every evening after dinner. I was an anxious kid and that ritual really helped me relax at the end of the day. Plus, it was so much easier to talk about what was worrying me or anything, really, when we were side by side and walking the same familiar route – especially the spot where we’d sit on a low wall for a few moments for a “quick break”. Some of the most meaningful conversations of my childhood and event teenage years happened on that wall. Such happy memories! Makes me think I should start doing it again.

  131. Ashley says...

    I started walking after my first son was born. I’m home with him (now them! I wear my five-month-old and push the three-year-old in a jogging stroller) two days a week, and our daily walk gives us structure to our day, and now that my first is older, we have the best conversations. Even on the grumpiest, terrible-threes days, it’s always fun, funny, and invigorating for me — and for him!

  132. Connie says...

    I adore this post! It came at the best time too. So much wisdom. By the way, I also think that this font is absolutely perfect. Somehow just so timeless.

    • Connie says...

      Actually, what font is this? Haha thank you Joanna!

  133. Taylor says...

    Ah, walking is everything. I’m lucky enough to have a walking commute through a lovely part of Philly, and I don’t think I could go back to the bus/train/car grind. It’s definitely a huge part of my “me” time–when you posted the meditation challenge the other day, I realized that my walk is really meditative for me since I just let my mind wander. And now, even 38 weeks pregnant, I’m still going (and hoping it makes labor easier this time around!).

  134. Kristina says...

    I just got back from a walk with my kids! They like to space out in the stroller and I listen to a podcast or just think my own thoughts and it feels so great. Last week I was having a terrible day and we went out for a walk to reset. I texted my sister later: “fresh air changes lives!!!!” : ) it really does! I’m a big advocate for daily walking.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it really does!!!!!!! even with a baby — i remember when toby was little; if he was fussy and i couldn’t figure it out (he didn’t seem tired, hungry or wet), i would just head outside and everything would be good again:)

    • Sasha says...

      I think outside should be added to the list of baby checks: hungry, wet, cold, tired…. Needs outside. It really is the answer for many upset babies (mom and nanny here).

  135. Love going for a walk. When a tricky situation arises and I am unsure what position to take, usually a walk will clear my head and will help me make the best decision.

    xx, Daeyz

  136. Brianna says...

    Yes! I walk on the treadmill in the mornings, which is terrible, but in the afternoon, I go for a walk outside to take a break.

  137. Katherine says...

    My husband and I go on a walk every single evening with our pup, and sometimes in the morning we’ll stroll to our neighborhood coffee shop, if we get out of bed early enough. My husband has a stressful office job, so awhile ago I suggested he go outside when he can, to take a walk and get some fresh air. A few months ago he discovered a hotel near his office has a pond with ducks, so now he goes on daily duck walks, sometimes twice a day. He sends me pictures of the baby ducklings and has even started taking his team along for walks when he can tell they need a break. He says they are all so much more relaxed and productive when they return to the office, even if things are just as chaotic as they were before they went out.

  138. Carrie says...

    I love this, but i’ll be damned if I’m not the most inconsistent person alive. I’ll get on a great “streak” until something will cause me to miss my daily walk then I don’t walk again for like 2 months lol. I really need to work on that!

  139. Oh yes! yes! yes! I walk every single day no matter the weather. I feel the energy of inspiration clarity and joy when I walk. I lived in Montreal and on the east coast for a long time and there were days that it was daunting, Thanks to having dogs I always get out. Mostly I love my solo walks….. and I appreciate the times I spend walking with friends as it always leads to fascinating conversation, insights, and strong feelings of connection.

    Here is a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver that I recently discovered, and, although I am smitten with the ocean sounds/smells/visuals this poem reminded me how incredibly special and lucky I am to now live and walk in Northern California among the trees and close to the sea:
    WHEN I AM AMONG THE TREES…MARY OLIVER
    When I am among the trees,
    especially the willows and the honey locust,
    equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
    they give off such hints of gladness.
    I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

    I am so distant from the hope of myself,
    in which I have goodness, and discernment,
    and never hurry through the world
    but walk slowly, and bow often.

    Around me the trees stir in their leaves
    and call out, “Stay awhile.”
    The light flows from their branches.

    And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
    “and you too have come
    into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
    with light, and to shine.”

    Speaking of inspiring, your mom’s work is just that, Stella!

    • Elise says...

      Thank you…that is a beautiful poem.

  140. Amanda says...

    This is so lovely! Your mom just gets it.

    My friend’s mother and her pals are all chatty former teachers who live in the tundra of northern Michigan and every morning (year-round) they take turns “picking each other up” at their houses (all close together) and go for a morning stroll and dish on the latest and greatest news in their lives. The part about this adorable ritual that really gets me though is they call themselves “The Walkie Talkies.” #goals, right?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg that is SO CUTE AND INSPIRING.

  141. L8Blmr says...

    I’ve lived in San Francisco pretty much all my life and I still learn/see new things walking through the neighborhoods. It’s such a great walking city (and great for the glutes!). One of my favorite things to do is look up into homes in the evening time to see how people live. It’s a quick peek into someone else’s life and sometimes helps me appreciate my own more. I have caught people doing it at my own home and it always brings a smile to my face.

    • Melanie says...

      I read this as “caught people ‘doing it’ at my own home” and wondered quickly how seeing people have sex at your house fit into your walk :)

      (And I clearly need to get my inner 10th grade boy in check)

    • C says...

      Hahaha Melanie I thought the same thing!

  142. Robyn says...

    Ha ha, your mom sounds awesome, Stella.

    As someone who is on her second day of walking to work after having a horrible 1 hour bus commute for my last job, I can confirm that so far my heart is singing at being out in the fresh air and moving my legs instead of sitting all cramped!

  143. Emma says...

    Yes! Me and my toddler go outside all the time! And it clears both our our heads. There is no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothing!

  144. Alice says...

    I did exactly this tonight! I escaped my moody 4 year old and loud toddler and slipped away into the evening. The colours were beautiful, the air fresh, calm, quiet. I like to see life, the city, people, architecture, birds, the distant hills, and be reminded I’m part of something much bigger. It reduces or grounds my problems – usually!

    Your mum is right: naps are a glorious reset, and there’s not much a negroni won’t fix. I’m British, so an evening bath is often on the rota for me. My mum has one EVERY night!

    • Amelia says...

      I don’t know what it is but somehow your phrase “slipped away into the evening” just totally hit me. Beautiful.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      same xoxo

  145. Totally agree. I take a walk every morning with my dog which starts my day on a positive note. Also, if something stressful comes up during the day my first choice to feel better is another walk. Without fail a walk improves my mood.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that, christie.

  146. Barbara says...

    As a freelancer working from home, my work life improved SO much once I got a dog. Besides being an amazing dog, taking him for a walk forces me to get out of the house every day. It’s great to take a break, chat quickly with random people who are clearly just interested on my dog and just see what’s happening around the neighborhood.

    • Yes! I know so many of my neighbors because of my daily morning walks to the park with my dog. It’s so refreshing to get fresh air and chat with acquaintances—people who play very minor roles in the story of your life but who make up the fabric of your days. I think the best way to feel like part of a community is to get out and walk around in it, preferably with a cute pup.

  147. Sarah says...

    LOLing at “even her own holiday cocktail party”. Thats too good!

  148. Sue says...

    Yesss to walks! I go for a 45min walk at our downtown river walk during my lunch hour… gotta get the daily 10K steps somehow…

  149. Alexis says...

    I love taking walks. However I never thought to make it a ritual, sounds romantic and promising.
    The last benefit got me thinking, when I studied abroad in Amsterdam I was absolutely smitten with the city and to this day I look back on it fondly with rose colored glasses. I believe it was all of the walking and biking I did on a daily basis (it really did feel like falling in love!) and now that I’ve been back in my rural suburban life driving everywhere has been the hardest things to deal with living in this area. Has me brainstorming about quiet cities to move to!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      your amsterdam experience sounds so wonderful, alexis! i agree about biking — i get such a giddy feeling from it, with the wind in my hair. it’s the same feeling as having butterflies.

    • Carrie says...

      Biking is the best! It feels so freeing! On a summer evening……nothing better!

    • This is such a good point! I studied abroad in Paris and walked to and from class each day along the river (45 minutes each way). Plus, I walked to dinner, to the market, everywhere. Makes me want to start walking everywhere in my current town so I can fall in love with it!

    • Kara says...

      Not much makes me as happy as riding a bike!!

  150. Mandy says...

    an evening stroll is poetry to me. The air is different, the light is different. it’s quiet, it’s nosey , it’s peaceful and people are friendlier. Plus you need to walk out all the gas from dinner ?

    • Em says...

      Hahah