5 Inspiring, Wonderful Resources on the Simple Joy of Walking

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I recently wrote an article for About.com about the similar health benefits of crochet and walking. In that post, I shared some of my favorite resources about inspired walking. I thought I’d share those here as well, along with a couple of other related resources that I hadn’t mentioned yet.

  • Walk It Off: A Walker’s Rambles. This terrific blog has a lot of information and inspiration for all walkers including people who have never walked regularly before and want to try it out.
  • Walking in this World by Julia Cameron. This book, part of The Artist’s Way series, is a creativity exercise book that also encourages daily walking as part of a creativity plan. It has great tips and information for using movement-based creativity to improve your quality of life. I love the whole series and I was excited when Cameron added the element of walking to the other daily rituals she was already recommending (journaling, etc.)
  • On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation by Andrea Horowitz. In this book the author takes a simple short walk with experts in different fields and discovers that each person sees different things in the world. It’s an inspiring guide for walking and I found that it also gave me a new perspective that infused creativity into my craft work and writing.
  • The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White. This is one of the first books I ever read about walking and it revitalized my own interest in this simple exercise. It’s a book about Paris, a book about the history of wandering, a book about the magic of walking through the world.
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. I’ve fallen in love with author Solnit in recent years. The first book of hers that I read was the one about San Francisco, which someone had given to my beaux as a gift and he had lent to me. I also read Paradise in Hell, her book about how we thrive in big disasters. And I’m currently reading The Faraway Nearby, a memoir about memory and stories. Wanderlust is her book about walking, about all of the different ways we walk and the stories of walking that are intertwined through time and her own experience of walking in my own San Francisco Bay Area.

Where was the last place that you walked? What did you discover?

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SmartChick Gets Silly Exercising with Barbie

Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. When I do it regularly, I feel good and I like that. When I don’t do it regularly, I can’t remember what I liked about it and I have to drag myself back to it kicking and screaming. (Actually, kicking and screaming isn’t really accurate because that would be much more active. I suppose that I have to drag my body out of bed as it resists by slumping into a heavier and heavier state!)

Of course, the trick is to find exercise that you truly enjoy doing. And I do have that. In particular, I like hiking. I also like other active, strength building things like indoor rock climbing and pilates mat classes. Unfortunately I just can’t make these things happen on a regular enough basis for them to be my sole form of exercise. I need more cardio in my life in order to feel good.

So what I’d really like to do is find a way to make exercising at home more fun. Home-based exercise is great because it doesn’t require any preparation, it works in any weather and you can fit it in between work and social networking and watching TV and whatever else you’re already doing at home. There are certainly drawbacks to home-based exercise and I definitely don’t think it could be my only exercise option either but combined with out-of-the-house activities it offers a well-rounded exercise option.

In theory. The problem is that it’s tough to find a home-based workout that I can actually get enthusiastic about. It’s easy to start one and then halfway through it decide that I’m done for the day – a huge flaw of the home-based workout. So, in an effort to get excited about exercise again, I decided to try a dance workout with Barbie.

The truth is that I love silly campy things. I love retro things that were sort of kind of cool when they first came out and are now just totally ridiculous. They make me laugh. And if you can laugh while you’re working out then you can enjoy what you’re doing, getting many more benefits than you would get with just straight gritting-your-teeth-through-it kind of exercise.

So I turned on this 30 minute video thinking that the silliness of it would at least get me excited about moving and being active in my home. It’s supposed to be for ages 6 and up so I didn’t expect a major workout. Boy was I wrong! Although the exercises themselves aren’t tough in the way that holding a yoga pose or climbing a mountain is tough, I found it nearly impossible to keep up with the dance moves of the Barbie instructor. How the kids on the video learned those dance exercises is beyond me.

But the truth is that it worked. It made me laugh. And I got most of the way through the video before I gave up on it, did some crunches and quit my home workout for the day.

What do you do to workout in a way that you actually enjoy?

Related article: 5 Ways to Burn Calories (that aren’t all about exercise)

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Exercise I Like

I’m probably never going to be someone who goes to the gym regularly. I just don’t enjoy hanging out on exercise machines even if it might be good for me. I’m the kind of person who has to enjoy my exercise or I’m not going to be able to do it.

Luckily, over the years, I’ve found several types of exercise that I actually enjoy. Last fall I discovered yoga (and more recently pilates) which I go to a few times a week. The combination of spirituality and exercise seems to really work for me there. I also like getting out into nature and enjoy hiking. I’ve done indoor rock climbing in the past and would love to try outdoor rock climbing one day. I think if you find exercises that you like such as these then you’ll naturally just stay in shape because you’ll enjoy working out.

In addition to learning to enjoy exercise, I’ve learned to enjoy reading and writing about exercise. I read a few fitness blogs and yoga magazines. Three recent articles that I wrote about exercise were:

  • 10 Trampoline Exercises. Working out on a trampoline is so much fun. I wish I could get one but it’s not feasible in my apartment at this time.
  • Foot Gymnastics. There are lots of workouts for the feet and toes. These are particularly good for anyone who has a problem with flat feet.
  • How to Burn Calories. Did you know that you don’t even have to exercise to burn calories? There are other things you can do as well.

Those were all fun articles to research and write about. Hopefully they’ll be fun for you to read as well.

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Gotta Start Doing Cardio

I tend to stay in pretty good shape. I walk everywhere. I go to yoga. I recently started pilates. I eat right more or less. But the one thing that I don’t do that I really need to start doing is moe cardio work. Although I get a decent bit of cardio in whenever I climb up one of SF’s hills, I mostly manage to avoid this important part of a regular exercise routine.

Many people make sure that they do cardio for weight loss. I’m not really looking to lose weight so that’s not my motivation. However, I have problems with asthma and I’d really like to build up my lung capacity which seems like a really good reason to start getting active about doing more cardio.

The problem is that I’ve really never done much cardio. Getting started with it isn’t easy, especially since the asthma kicks in right away and I have trouble getting past that first difficult hump. However, I realize that this is not something that’s going to get better with time – at least not until I start making the effort to get that cardio in.

If anyone has tips on how to get in your cardio when you’re just getting started with it – I’d love to hear them!

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SmartChick at the Blog Carnival: Wellness

My health and diet post about yoga being so much more than just a physical thing has been included in the stress subject section of the Total Mind and Body Fitness blog carnival. Other articles on stress that were included were about rush hour traffic stress, destressing at work and finding satisfaction in life.

This blog carnival isn’t just about stress relief, though. It’s about all aspects of fitness and wellness. Other posts included:

Wellness is a really important topic to read about so hopefully you’ll find some helpful information from the other articles that were included in this blog carnival!

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Yoga Is About More Than The Physical

Yoga is a popular form of exercise, especially in California where I live. However, it’s more than just a form of exercise. Yoga is a means of connecting with yourself. It’s a tool that can be used to get away from the hectic pace of life and bring yourself back to the core things that matter for you. It’s a way to establish peace of mind, get to know what’s going on with your body and really heal yourself from the inside out.

I never thought that I would be a yoga person. I was always someone who couldn’t sit still for long. I was always someone who wanted to do hiking and indoor rock climbing and other activities that involved a lot of motion. And I was definitely never someone who enjoyed classes filled with people who were exercising together.

But then things happened in my life. My world crashed down around me. And the only thing that I felt capable of doing was breathing (although some days I didn’t even feel capable of that). That was when I found yoga. I signed up for a weekly workshop. I dragged myself there. I learned to do some basic poses. I learned to breathe more deeply. And I learned to settle my mind so I could just relax despite the chaos happening around me. The physical exercise is certainly an important part of yoga but yoga is about so much more than that.

Ever since I started that first workshop, I have felt that yoga must be an important part of my life for the rest of my life. I make time for yoga classes no matter what else is going on. When I was ill recently, the thing I missed most was being able to go to yoga. Although it’s not the right activity for everyone, it’s now the right activity for me.

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