|Image Copyright Brooke Becker | Brooke Photo Studio 2011 All Rights Reserved|
Walking is possibly the most simple form of exercise that can be spiced up in a wide variety of ways.
Studies not only show that walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your body, but it is also good for your emotional health as well. Even on days when I go to the gym for a workout I still like to find time at the end of the day to walk with my husband. We like to walk about an hour during the week and more on the weekends. It gives us the chance to unwind and talk about our days at work while improving our health at the same time.
Explore Your Neighborhood
When I started walking around my neighborhood I began to feel more connected to the place where I live. I discovered a road that is a dead end so I never drove on it before. On that road there is a small farm where the crops rotate according to the seasons. I have gotten to recognize several horses along the way that will often come to the fence and say hello. There is an entire neighborhood of bright colorful homes hidden on a back dirt road. And when you follow that dead end road all the way to the end you will find yourself at the ocean. I have found that no matter how many times I walk the same route there is always something new. It is an adventure right where I live.
Walking at the beach is another one of my favorite activities. In the summer there is plenty of people watching to do, and in the winter the serenity is unmatched. Walking in soft sand burns more calories so when you are ready to kick it up a notch move away from the shore into the lighter sand. If it is a hot day make sure to bring lots of water and your bathing suit for a swim!
Zoos and Aquariums
Be a tourist close to home! Zoos and aquariums are often great places to walk and have yearly memberships that you can purchase to visit again and again. I was at the North Carolina Zoo last weekend wishing that it wasn't 4 hours from my home. It offers a 5 mile walk to cover the entire zoo which is a great little workout on a Sunday afternoon. They offer a family membership at $59/year which is a great price if you live close and can visit often. The aquarium at Fort Fisher in North Carolina offers an outside nature trail that is only a mile, but can be fun to walk several loops around. They also offer a yearly membership for $60 that is good at all 3 aquariums in NC.
Malls and Museums
If it is raining hit the mall or a museum. Malls will often offer yearly memberships like zoos and aquariums and admission to the mall is free as long as you don't buy anything. If you want to hit a museum without paying admission check with your local library to see if they offer a pass or call the museum to ask if they have any free or discounted admission days. If you end up in a smaller museum or mall for your walk don't be afraid to make several loops.
Parks, Gardens, and Battlefields
America is full of parks, gardens and battlefields that are often free. Do an internet search to see what is close to your home. One of my favorite walking spots is Moore's Creek Battlefield. It is about 45 minutes from my home, but well worth the drive. They offer a 1 mile trail through woods and swamp with Revolutionary War history along the way. My husband and I like to do about 4 loops. We are always on the lookout for new parks, gardens, and battlefields to try. The National Park Service website is a great place to search for locations near your home.
The opportunities to walk seem endless when you start looking! Where do you like to walk?