That’s an unequivocal ‘yes’ from me. I resume walking, aged 59, when I’m in such poor health I’m in danger of becoming housebound. Three years and over 4,500 kilometres later, I’m fitter, healthier, and stronger than I’ve ever been. And the corollary of that is I’m also happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.
I’d be telling a big fat porkie pie (lie) if I said I knew exactly what the connection between walking and wellness is. We have, however, known about it for a bloody long time. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said:
‘Walking is man’s best medicine’.
And he died in his 80s in 370 BC. I do, however, have some glimmerings into the connection, gleaned from my own experience.
Looking back over my life, I see that, on at least two occasions, I turned to walking as the answer to my health problems. The first time is when I start going for dawn walks as an antidote to my chronic migraines. Guess what? The migraines lessen in severity and frequency. But I allow life in the shape of a new and demanding job to disrupt my walking routine….and the migraines return with a vengeance.
The second time is during my recovery from chronic fatigue, a condition facilitated by that same new and demanding job. As soon as I feel strong enough, I arrange to go hiking in the Peak District with a work colleague.
What’s interesting about both of these examples is that, unusually for me, I listen to my instinct. There’s no logical, rational reason why walking would help in either of these situations. But it does.
And it’s a pattern that repeats itself in 2014 when I walk my first 800 kilometre Camino de Santiago. This is when my active life had all but ceased. On that occasion, there’s another element as well. I take responsibility for my own body, rather than continuing to outsource it to health practitioners.
Listening to our instinct and refusing to run to the medical profession for chronic conditions are both counter-cultural, but they work for me. Could they work for you? Worth a go, surely. To enjoy more of my insights into walking into wellness, join my Facebook group: Daily Discoveries with Elaine.