Can a Walk Help Smokers Quit?

No smokingI’m a bit obsessed with studies done about walking. That’s because they usually support my un-researched position that walking is the most awesome thing ever. A good one recently came out of Finland that wasn’t really focused on walking, however it proved to be a fabulous thing AND adds to the lengthy list of reasons why everyone should walk.

Published August 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study took more than 20,000 smokers and ex-smokers and looked at how far they have to walk to pick up a pack of cigarettes. They found that the farther smokers had to walk to buy cigarettes, the more likely they would quit. In fact, a distance of about 1/3 of a mile between home and store was associated with a 57 percent increased chance of a smoker calling it quits. For ex-smokers, distance to a smoke shop didn’t affect whether they relapsed or not.

I’ve read that if you are dieting and are craving something not-so-healthy, you should take a walk to distract your mind from the forbidden food in the fridge. This study though seems to have more of a hassle factor involved – is it worth walking all the way to the store for my cigarettes? I don’t recommend taking up smoking as an excuse to walk, but can appreciate that the Finnish smokers were walking their errands versus driving.

If you ARE looking for an excuse to walk, you might find some inspiration here: walk to relax or to improve your relationships.

Image courtesy of Visual hunt

Walking for the Unexpected

There are so many reasons to walk – as I’ve noted time and time again on these pages. Walking is healthy, boosts creativity, puts you in a better mood…really why aren’t we walking right now?!? Today though I want to talk about one of my top reasons to walk: because I love surprises.

I’m a pretty habitual walker, dog and I do more or less the same walks morning, afternoon and night. I always set out for those non-routine walks with a great sense of anticipation. What may I see, hear or discover this time? Quite often not much. If it’s a hometown city walk, maybe a shop that opened or closed or a chance meeting with a friend. Sometimes a walk in the park offers up an open air concert or other event, often new doggie friends.

Long distance walks always bring peace with energy – all that green space cannot fail to both relax and invigorate me. Usually though, apart from the lovely nature, there’s not much unexpected that happens until I hit a small village or town. Except for my holiday walk this year.

Walking in the Czech Republic, along the Labe River, we’d been on a nice semi-road lined on one side with said river and the other with holiday cottages. Quite often along well-used hiking/biking paths, especially in more populated areas, you’ll find food and drink stands with packaged snacks, sometimes a grill for sausages as well as beer, soft drinks, etc. As we walked we came upon a sign stating there was pizza 10 meters ahead. That’s odd, we thought – we’d never seen one of these food stands that served pizza. We rounded a corner and this is what we discovered:

walking for the unexpected

Unfortunately it wasn’t pizza time for us, but we loved the sheer novelty of a pizza vending machine. I always advocate keeping yourself open while walking as you never know what might walk into your life – literally or metaphorically, but this unexpected smile was just sitting there waiting for us.

Images © Sole Explorations

 

Walking – in Pictures

Walking holidayWe spent 7 days walking across the north central part of the Czech Republic and into Germany, ending in the city of Dresden. It was a lovely walk mainly along the Labe/Elbe River – it’s the Labe in the Czech Republic and the Elbe when you get into Germany. Here are some photos of the restful nature we walked through along the way. Enjoy, and I hope it inspires you to search out some green space for yourself this month.

Day 1 – Flat fields with some shady forests

Field walking

Forest walking

Day 2 –  A damp day all the way!

Rainy walking

Day 3 – Along the Labe River

River walks

Day 4 – Approaching GermanyCliffs

Day 5 – In Germany, heading to Bad Schandau

Germany walking

Day 6 – Some beautiful forest walking again

Woods walking

Day 7 – The outskirts of Dresden

River walking

Images © Sole Explorations

Racewalking at the 2016 Rio Olympics

RacewalkingAre you an Olympics watcher? What’s your favorite sport? I’m not a huge TV sports fan, but depending on the timing (i.e. how convenient the time zone of the games are to my time zone) I don’t mind having some sport on in the background. While the number of different events held at the summer Olympics is a bit overwhelming, racewalking is one that many people either don’t know exists or think is a bit odd. Which I admit it is – their arm and hip swinging looks awkward, and a bit uncomfortable. Also, a contest to see who can walk the fastest seems a little daft.

Race walkers are lean and muscular and must train hard to learn the proper technique. It’s not all about speed or endurance here – you have to walk fast while maintaining contact with the ground with at least one foot. If both feet are off the ground at once, this is a violation of the lifting rule. The second basic rule of racewalking is the straight leg – your front leg must have the knee straight from the time the foot touches the ground until it passes under the body. At the Olympics and other sanctioned competitions, there are judges who ensure racewalkers don’t violate these rules. Between those two critical rules, plus ensuring proper arm motion, taking care not to over stride and making sure you aren’t leaning too far forward or backward; these athletes have undergone lots of training and must maintain intense concentration in order to succeed.

In the 1800s, watching people walk was a huge spectator event. Of course, pedestrianism wasn’t focused on speed but endurance, but apparently a hundred years or so ago walking was an acceptable sport to watch. While it may not gain as much respect as the marathon, racewalkers have the joy of walking for a living. Tune in this August to cheer on the 20K women and men racewalkers!

Image courtesy of Olympic.org

Share the Walking Love

RelationshipsI’ve written this past month about how walking can boost your mood and a walking meeting is a productive way to squeeze in some exercise while at work. But there’s a third area of life that walking can have a positive effect on – your relationships.

When I speak about relationships here I mean basically everyone in your life – partner, parents, siblings, friends, etc. While walking you are more engaged with the other person. You are moving together and your ideas and thoughts flow that way as well. Normally when meeting with someone we are seated across from them, speaking at them. While walking you are speaking in the same direction, which makes for more harmonious conversations.

At a restaurant or in our homes there are so many distractions, from the food to the TV to other people. These disturbances interfere with the conversation and neither party can truly focus on the other. While walking, not only are you doing something healthy, there aren’t any interruptions to your discussion. Both are focused on each other and the importance (or even not!) of what you are talking about.

So next time you want to hang out with somebody, invite them for a walk. Be it a park or high street, walking outdoors with someone will bring you closer, your time together will be enriched and you’ll both be happy to have such a positive person in your life.

Image courtesy of Stefan 1981 via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND