The Best Medicine

More Than Just a Walk in the Park

They say everyone has a special talent. Some people are great at building things, while others can cook amazing culinary dishes. Some individuals sing like a bird, and others can sit at a piano and play any song by ear.

At first, I had trouble identifying my special talent. For example, to say that I’m not a particularly handy person is as accurate as saying that I’m not nine feet tall, and when it comes to cooking skills, I can’t even make microwave popcorn. On the musical side, the one person who’s ever told me that I sing like a bird was referring to a turkey buzzard—and if I tried playing a piano by ear, it would sound the same as if I tried playing it using my ear.

Then I remembered something I’ve always done extraordinarily well: I am amazing at coming up with excuses not to exercise. That’s not a small feat. If I could strengthen my heart, lower my blood pressure, sleep better, think better, move better, focus better, live longer and experience less pain simply by exercising 30-45 minutes, three to four times a week, then obviously I had to be creative to come up with reasons not to do so.

And creative I was. I didn’t run because my knees sometimes hurt. I didn’t swim because I didn’t want to get wet, and I didn’t lift weights because they were heavy. I didn’t know how half of the machines in the fitness center worked, and the other half looked scary. I was afraid my resistance band might snap me like a wet bath towel. 

Now I’m not saying my special talent was a positive one, just as people who irritate everyone around them at work by constantly humming or whistling shouldn’t brag about their special talent. I’m just saying it’s what I was good at. 

Then I learned about the health benefits of walking, which shares many of the same benefits as other types of exercising, such as maintaining a healthy weight; preventing or controlling health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes; strengthening bones and muscles; improving balance; and a host of others.

Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a truly good excuse not to walk. I couldn’t even come up with a meager excuse. I didn’t need special clothing or equipment to take a walk, and it was something I had learned how to do many years ago. In fact, it was something I was already doing every day.

Not only that, but if I wasn’t able to walk 30-45 minutes at a time, I could still achieve some health benefits by walking in smaller chunks throughout the day. 

So I started walking, and it turned out to be as easy as it sounds. And not only am I improving my overall health, but walking also can yield some unexpected benefits. I use my walking time as an opportunity to listen to podcasts, so I’m learning new things in the process. Granted, I only listen to podcasts that focus exclusively on knock-knock jokes, but you might choose something different (although, why?).

I also reconnect with neighbors on my walks, explore new parts of town and find myself relaxing as I spend more time in nature. I used to see nature simply as that space that existed outside my house or car windows, but it turns out there’s more to it. Who knew?

So now I’m back to trying to figure out what my special talent is—since, again, they say everybody has one. 

Maybe mine is proving that there are exceptions to every rule. 

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