Walk in the Rain

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When the weather turns rainy, we often use that as an excuse to stay indoors. I know I love catching up on reading and drinking a cup of hot tea while listening to the rumble of thunder and splatters of rain against the windows.

However, getting out into that rain, whether it’s a downpour or a light misting, brings a host of benefits.

For walk number 12, in 52 Ways to Walk, I enjoyed not one, not two but four consecutive days of experiencing those benefits. As an added bonus, I did so in the company of my grandson, Dayan, in a new to me city, Washington DC.

This is Walk in the Rain.

Walk in the Rain title

Why Walk in the Rain?

Walking in the rain is a physical experience that allows us to literally feel nature against our skin. The rain surrounds us, fills our senses and awakens us to a greater awareness of our bodies.

Check out these reasons to pull on your boots and head outside the next time it rains.

Health Boosting Compounds Released

The pounding rain and increased moisture in the air releases very specific compounds that mix with the air we breathe. Inhaling this compound rich oxygen creates a heightened sense of well being. That upward tick in mood helps to lower stress, shift perspective and clear the mind.

Walk in the Rain rainy day
Walk in the Rain – rainy day in DC

Awakens the Sense of Smell

Rain washing trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses releases their unique scents. Those intoxicating fragrances, says Scottish writer and walker Nan Shepherd, can leave us “as good as drunk”!

Have you ever walked right after a rain, and smelled the clean, loamy scent of the earth? That scent actually has a name, coined by two Australian mineralogists: petrichor.

The rain creates many fragrances as it disturbs molecules on all kinds of plants and other surfaces. In urban areas and cites, rain releases the stored scents in rock, stone, bricks and concrete.

Cleanses the Air

The air is always fresher after a rain. That’s because the falling drops wash away pollution. Each drop attracts hundreds of pollutants, including dust, dirt, soot and other particles, scrubbing the air clean.

During and after a cleansing rainfall, everything looks different. Tree trunks and branches glisten, flower petals look dewy, colors seem brighter, streets and sidewalks appear fresh. Observing these cleansing changes increases levels of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone.

Walk in the rain showers
Walk in the Rain – showers release scents into the air

Increases Negative Ion Count

Additionally, rain raises the negative ion count in the air. Scientists believe the higher negative ion count improves cognitive performance, longevity and overall health.

We also burn more calories when we walk in the rain. Why? Walking in cooler, rainy weather requires more exertion, which uses up fuel in the way of calories.

Tips for a Walk in the Rain

Purchase water proof or water resistant garments including a jacket with a hood and pants that are snug around the ankles. A rain poncho works well too.

Water proof shoes, boots or rubber galoshes help keep feet dry and comfortable. Make sure shoes or boots have traction on the soles to prevent slipping on rain slick surfaces.

And if desired, especially in heavier rainfall, grab an umbrella as you head out the door.

Walk in the Rain lafayette park
Walk in the Rain – Lafayette Park in DC

My Walk in the Rain

I flew into Washington DC on a Friday morning and left late Monday evening. Rain fell every day, sometimes lightly and sometimes with more force. Temperatures steadily dropped lower each day until the highs only reached the low 50s on my last day in the city.

And you know what? The rain did not stop my grandson and me from exploring the city every day. We sometimes ducked into a museum for an hour or two, to dry off. Primarily though, we walked in the rain, jackets zipped up and an umbrella tucked into my Mary Poppins style bag for when the showers became unrelenting.

I loved the whole experience. At night I fell asleep in my hotel room, listening to the low growl of thunder and raindrops dancing against the large window of my fifth floor hotel room. And during the day I got to know DC with Dayan as an excellent guide. Fortunately, daylight brought overcast skies and rain only. Lightning never forced us to take shelter.

Those four days of walking in the rain with my grandson, visiting monuments, historical sites and museums and trying new restaurants created memories I’ll cherish always. I left DC feeling truly refreshed and invigorated.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, then this book is for you!

The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Tell me in the comments below about a walk in the rain you enjoyed recently!

Walk in the Rain wet pavement
Walk in the Rain – wet pavement in DC

 

Rainy Day Finds from Amazon:

 


 

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Walk with Your Ears

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Do you know that one of the main stressors in our lives is noise?

From traffic sounds to construction work to people talking to loud music or the television blaring in the background to the constant ding and chime of our electrical devices, we are bombarded daily with noise.

My activity this week, from the book 52 Ways to Walk, led me to a stroll through nature with the goal of disconnecting from all the noise in my life.

This is walk number 14, Walk with Your Ears.

Walk with Your Ears title meme

Bombarded with Noise

Noise is a by product of our lives, especially for urban and city dwellers. Various studies show that city noises result in an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Exposure to noise also elevates stress, creating inflamed blood vessels which raises the risk for stroke.

Studies of schools near busy airports found that students tested more poorly in cognitive and literary skills than those not near an airport. The World Health Organization believes that traffic noise alone contributes significantly to the loss of a healthier life. And even in a deep sleep, noise affects heart rate and blood pressure.

A study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School monitored the heart rate and brain activity of healthy adults as they listened to a variety of sounds. The brain region that’s active when we are resting and relaxed, referred to as that default mode, changed according to the sound listened to.

When participants listened to ocean waves, their brains switched into an outward focus of attention. Traffic sounds caused the brain to focus inward, in a state observed in people with anxiety, trauma and depression. And interestingly, the participants bodies followed their minds. In a more relaxed state their heart rates slowed, muscles relaxed and their digestive systems worked better.

Walk with Your Ears path
Walk with Your Ears – walking in the woods near Shoal Creek.

 

Walk in Nature

The answer to all the noise in our lives, is to take time frequently to walk in a quiet, natural area. Nature sounds bring powerful healing to the body, reducing stress and anxiety, lowering cortisol levels and boosting overall health.

The following nature sounds seem to positively impact health the greatest:

  • birdsong
  • moving water in a river or the ocean
  • rustling tree leaves
  • silence
  • twigs snapping underfoot
  • animal sounds
  • wind whistling through the trees
  • rain falling
  • acorns hitting the ground
  • squelching mud

And experiencing these sounds outdoors is better than listening to recordings of nature sounds. People report feeling happier and more relaxed after walking in nature, verses listening to an app with nature sounds. Additionally, the activity of walking contributes to the powerful effects of listening to nature.

Walk with Your Ears creek
Walk with Your Ears – stopping by a gurgling creek.

Tips for Walking with Your Ears

Following your ears as you walk in nature guides you to fresh experiences and an outwardly directed focus.

Choose an outdoor area away from traffic and city noises, preferably with trees and a river or stream nearby.

Walk alone, so that other than nature sounds, you walk in silence.

Listen for nature sounds such as birdsong, animal noises, water gurgling over rocks and the wind shushing through the trees. This is called susurration, which is defined as a whispering, murmuring or rustling sound.

Cup your hands around your ears, to amplify sounds around you.

Close your eyes occasionally, to turn focus from the visual to the auditory.

Follow a nature sound that you hear, to see where it leads.

Record your walk, catching some of the sounds you hear, to replay later.

Walk with Your Ears river
Walk with Your Ears – Shoal Creek

My Walk with My Ears

I chose a wooded area south of my city, for my walk with my ears. The Shoal Creek area offers walking trails along the river and paths through the woods, making it an ideal location for this activity.

There were other people around, walking dogs, jogging along the paths and playing in the river. However the walkers passed by with a smile and a nod and my walk took me deeper into the woods, where it was quiet except for birdsong, insect noises and the gentle breeze moving through the trees.

Near the river I discovered that one animal noise is somewhat annoying…the incessant barking of a dog. I’m an animal lover, however when out walking for the benefits it brings, a barking dog is low on my list of what I hope to experience. Fortunately, away from the river, I couldn’t hear the dog.

The auditory focused walk soothed my body, which felt tired after a very busy week. I loved the sound of the breeze stirring the leaves and listening to different bird calls and insect sounds. The cicadas sang their undulating song of summer while crickets chirped. I heard small animals rustling in the underbrush although I never saw them. And I stopped to talk to my old friend, Oak Tree.

I left the woods and the creek refreshed and feeling happy.

You can watch a ten second video of my nature walk HERE.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. Throughout the next year, I intend to randomly select walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

Do you have a quiet, nature area to walk in?

Walk with Your Ears me
Loving the Walk with Your Ears activity!

 

Walking in Nature finds from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

Walk Backward

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I recently shared about the book 52 Ways to Walk. You can check out a review of the book HERE.

Although I’m excited to try out all 52 ways of walking, as suggested in the book, I found myself derailed.

I initially selected, randomly, a walk with others activity. And then the weather turned incredibly hot with temps at or above 100 degrees daily. Excuses, excuses.

Eventually I found a group to walk with and I’ll enjoy that shared activity with them soon. For my first walk from the book, I chose this one: #49 Walk Backward.

And yes…it is exactly what it sounds like!

Walk Backward title meme

Why Walk Backward?

There’s a fun story behind this walking activity.

In 1931 a Texan named Plennie Wingo decided to walk backward around the world. After practicing for six months, Wingo set out from Santa Monica, California with a stout walking stick for balance and tiny mirrors attached to his glasses so that he could see behind him.

Wingo walked backward across the US to Boston, Massachusetts. He sailed from Boston to Germany and continued his backward walk. Although he was jailed in Turkey, Wingo eventually completed a walk of 7,000 miles…all in reverse. He gained recognition as the Guiness record holder for “greatest extent of reverse pedestrianism” and lived to the amazing age of 98. Wingo attributed his good health to regularly walking backward.

The Health Benefits of Walking Backward

It seems that Wingo discovered a truth.

According to recent studies, the best way to improve walking forward is to occasionally walk in reverse. Doing so strengthens the lower body while improving balance and stability.

Plus when we walk backward without using our eyes to see ahead, we learn to rely on something called proprioception, a system of neurons embedded in our joints, muscles and limbs that work with our senses to communicate with our central nervous system and brain.

Researchers speculate that walking backward requires unfamiliar, more complex movements, enhancing proprioception abilities along with balance and perception.

Walking in reverse demands more physically as well as we start on the toes and roll to the heel. (Wingo went through 13 pairs of shoes on his historical walk.) We engage the shin muscles and glutes differently and lengthen out hamstrings.

Backward walking aligns the spine and pelvis, reduces lower back pain, strengthens knee joints and improves stride and gait.

Walk Backward view behind
Walk Backward – my view behind me as I walked

Tips for Walking Backward

Engaging in this activity requires some care. Wingo sprained one ankle and broke the other and he caused a car accident.

For safety, walk in a familiar area that is level and without obstacles. Ask a friend or family member to join you, walking forward and serving as a guide.

Focus on each step, walking slowly and pushing off the toe then rolling to the heel. Let arms swing naturally and keep back straight and head centered.

Keep the walk short if this is your first time walking backward. If you enjoy this activity build up to longer backward walks.

My Experience Walking Backward

I chose my neighborhood for this backward walk. Greg accompanied me as my guide and to offer an arm if I felt unsteady. My neighborhood contains fairly new sidewalks, making a smooth, level surface to walk upon.

Due to the heat, even in the morning hours, we kept the distance short and I didn’t walk backward the whole way. After climbing a hill part way, I turned around and walked in reverse for a while. And then I returned to normal walking for a distance before reversing again.

Immediately I noticed a difference in my lower back and legs. I could feel muscles working in ways I don’t notice when walking normally. Although the distance was just under a mile, I later experienced a bit of soreness in my left leg and foot from the unaccustomed gait. The discomfort quickly disappeared.

Overall, it was a fun and unique experience. And not one person looked at me strangely…well maybe Greg did…and no one ran off the road while driving by due to the unusual sight of a woman walking backward!

To receive the most benefits, I intend to include walking backward as a regular activity.

Walk Backward cindy
Me on number 49 walk backward.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

 

52 Ways to Walk book

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

52 Ways to Walk

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Greg recently brought home a book from our local library, because he thought it might interest me. And does it ever interest me!

The book, 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets, carries the subtitle “The surprising science of walking for wellness and joy, one week at a time.” I appreciate the “wellness and joy” aspects of the book. And, I absolutely love the format. My imagination immediately fired up as I read through the book.

I’m excited to put this book into practice. And I’m equally excited to share the book with you.

52 Ways to Walk title meme

Meet the Author, Annabel Streets

Annabel grew up in a carless family. Her father never learned to drive and her mother failed her driving test seven times. The family lived in remote places without access to public transportation, so if they needed something, they walked to obtain it.

As a young adult, Annabel bought her first car and enjoyed driving it around her little town. She also accepted a desk job. Soon she noticed changes in her body and wellness level.

Her body grew rounder, softer, achier, stiffer and more stooped. And Annabel felt more anxious, unsettled and discontent. She chose to reconnect with the simple joys of walking, to reclaim her health and wellbeing.

As she returned to walking frequently, she made two rules for herself: walk instead of using the car, unless absolutely necessary and convert as many sedentary activities as possible into walking activities.

52 Ways to Walk was born out of Annabel’s reconnection with walking and the desire to encourage others to rethink walking and reclaim it from their molecular memories.

52 Ways to Walk cold
52 Ways to Walk – Week 1 Walk in the Cold

How to Use the Book

Each chapter in the book is an opportunity to discover a new way of walking. The chapters roughly coincide with annual weather conditions, colder at the beginning and end of the year, and some universally recognized events.

However, the chapters and modes of walking can also be accessed randomly, choosing a chapter here and the next week, flipping to another section of the book.

To best use the book, whether chronologically or randomly, first skim through the chapters and prepare for the variety of walks. During cold or rainy weather, have coats, scarves, umbrellas and proper footwear available. Download map apps and online sites for walking in new areas.

Walking shoes and boots should fit properly. Purchase new ones if they don’t. Quick drying, breathable socks are a must as well. A stout walking stick is helpful for walking in nature. And keep a backpack ready to go with bandaids, snacks, water, sunscreen, wipes, antiseptic, insect repellent and pain relievers.

Pick a week to start, choose your first walk and head out the door!

52 Ways to Walk lost
52 Ways to Walk – Week 41 Walk to Get Lost

Examples from 52 Ways to Walk

Each short chapter includes the type of walk to go on, the benefits from the activity and the science to back the reasoning. At the end of each chapter is a TIPS section with ways to get the most from the walk.

Here is a sampling of walks found in the book.

Walk, Smile, Greet, Repeat

Walking allows us to experience chance encounters with others. Greeting the people we meet with a smile while walking in a neighborhood makes us feel better and return home happier.

Walk in the Rain

Rather than using a rainy day as an excuse to stay home, this week’s activity encourages us to walk in the rain and reconnect with the elements. The falling rain, increased moisture and persistent pounding of raindrops causes specific compounds to be released and combined with the air we breathe. Inhaling those compounds produces a profound sense of well being in the body.

52 Ways to Walk rain
52 Ways to Walk – Week 12 Walk in the Rain

Take a Silent Stroll

A decade ago, scientists discovered that loud noises stopped new neurons from forming in the brain, in the regions linked to memory and learning. Two hours of silence every day produced new neurons. Walking in a quiet place allows the body to reset and the brain to create new neurons.

Amble Amid Trees

in the 1960s biologists realized that the bluish haze often seen over landscapes is a vast cloud of molecules and gases produced by trees and plants. Those emissions benefit earth’s atmosphere. Now we are discovering that they deliver positive benefits to us as well, when we walk in the woods. Health benefits include reduced risks for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, early death, high blood pressure and stress.

52 Ways to Walk woods
52 Ways to Walk – Week 19 Amble Amid Trees

Walk with Your Nose

Our sense of smell is the most primitive of the senses. To fully activate that sense and awaken the other senses, walk in an area rich in aromatic plant life. Walk slowly, occasionally closing the eyes and placing hands over the ears and be guided by the nose.

Follow a River

Landscapes with running water have a restorative effect on the mood of the walker. The mind unwinds and the brain relaxes, helping us to feel tranquil and energized at the same time. Tote along lightweight binoculars for watching wildlife along the river and wear sunglasses to protect eyes from glare off of the water.

52 Ways to Walk river
52 Ways to Walk – Week 17 Follow a River

How I Intend to Use the Book

Since the copy I am currently reading came from the library, I’m ordering my own copy from Amazon.

I love the easy to use format and the mix of tips, stories, science and fun in each chapter. Walking as an exercise is important to me. The health benefits are many plus it is a recommended activity for the Blue Zones lifestyle.

What I appreciate also about the book is the ability to keep the walks interesting by playing a random game. One of the primary reasons people don’t continue a walking practice is boredom. And I get it. Walking the same route the same way becomes more of a mindless activity. I love that 52 Ways to Walk offers a fresh walking activity every week.

My intention is to write out each week’s walk on a slip of paper, fold those 52 slips up and drop them into a container. Each week I’ll draw out a different walk to experience. If the walk doesn’t match the weather or requires something I’m not able to do that week, then I’ll return that slip to the container and draw out another one. This is a form of creative play that I enjoy immensely.

52 Ways to Walk dogs
52 Ways to Walk – Week 18 Walk with a Dog

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK or by clicking on the photo of the book below. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

52 Ways to Walk gait
52 Ways to Walk – Week 2 Improve Your Gait

 

Click photo below to order book:

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.