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Habit Forming Winter Walks

Share This article - A few years ago I went to a very nice mall with high-end stores. It serves a very suburban and affluent community in Oakbrook, Illinois. I expected to find pampering and luxurious corridors filled with music, palm trees in atriums, and all the amenities. Instead this outdoor mall had shoppers bundled in coats and gloves casually walking from store to store. Yes! You truly can enjoy walking in the cold.

If you are tired of being inside then it is time to discover just how enjoyable it can be to venture outside. Not only is it invigorating, you’ll find your body has a natural ability to adapt and strengthen itself. That can be a huge factor this winter in being able to be more resistant to germs and avoid sickness. Quit sitting inside nurturing seasonal habits of overeating, inactivity, and feelings of containment and limitations. Get into your winter boots, get into makeover mode, and get into your very own winter adventure challenge.

Walking is one of the most natural ways to get fit. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, burns calories, exposes you to oxygen-rich air, builds muscles, stimulates you mentally, and renews you spiritually. With all these benefits… What are you waiting for?

Proper gear is a must. Sure, high-tech gear is great. However, low-tech gear will work. Choose a good pair of shoes that are flexible, have tread to grip slick surfaces and are comfortable. Some people may want shoes that provide extra support to their ankles. Wear clothes in layers so you can adjust them as needed to keep warm and dry. Take water to drink along the way. Particularly in the winter it can be easy to become dehydrated.

Find a variety of places to walk. Select places that will offer different values. You may want one walk to be in your neighborhood. This has the benefit of being close and enables you to pray for your neighbors as you pass by their homes. For a more adventurous walk find a local city park, rails-to-trails or school grounds. This typically can offer a more quiet experience, changes in terrain and interesting things to see. Yet another walk may be around your church. For all the locations be sure to plan your routes to assure your safety. If you plan to walk alone let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Keep alert and take a mobile phone with you if you have one.

Make your walks interesting and enjoyable. Take a pet to walk with you. If you don’t have a pet, then offer to walk the neighbor’s dog. Bring music to play on a personal audio system. Invite a friend, co-worker, family member, or your pastor to walk with you. Walking can also be a great solo experience. You can pray, memorize Bible verses, or simply be quiet and listen carefully.

To really get the best physical benefit from your walk you will want to set a pace that allows you to have aerobic exercise (exercise that gets you breathing stronger and taking in more oxygen). You can also structure your walk to have periods of intensity. Gradually you will be able to increase the length and frequency of those periods and increase the overall intensity of your walk. As you do, your gradually discover improved strength and endurance.

Sure, this is a cold time of the year to be out walking. It is however, absolutely the best time of year to start a habit of walking. Winter will give way to spring and later this year on a summer day when the sun is making the sidewalk or trail scorching hot you’ll fondly remember those cold winter walks as you wipe the sweat from your brow. Take a drink, thank God for the physical experience of life, and celebrate your walking habit.

Winter Walks Around the Country

San Francisco, CA Walking trails along the steep and rugged Pacific coastline at Golden Gate National Park offer an expansive surrounding for meditative walks that are conveniently within city limits.

St. Louis, MO The grounds around the famous arch are rather expansive and provide terrain for great up and down walking. It is an excellent place to meet a friend or small church group for walking fellowship and prayer for your city.

Dayton, OH The well-developed river walk in this city is a celebratory place during the summer months. During the winter it is quiet along the icy river contributing to inner stillness with your active walk.

Atlanta, GA Emory University has a charming and secluded setting ideal for walkers. Blend in to the walking tradition of college life or strike a conversation with someone as they head across campus.

New York, NY Church discovery hikes are a great way to begin and end a walk through this fascinating city. Pick a beginning and ending church. Decide in advance the distance you want to cover. Don’t just see the church building. Stop, enter and visit with those who are there. Convenient public transportation gives you latitude.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2005 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle.



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Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is on-line at It is published six times per year as a resource for building physical and spiritual strength. They provide live support and program development for individuals, churches, and communities. For more information or to obtain permission to reprint this article, email