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Over the years, walking has become my favorite form of exercise for many reasons. Walking has become the key tool for both maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing for me. After years of regular running, at this stage of my life (in my mid-forties), walking feels more comfortable, although I still do that very regularly, 3–4 times a week, at least for one hour each time. Not only can I take care of my physical fitness with regular long walks but I also feel that walking is essentially important for combatting work and other types of stress for me and it is important for giving me much needed “me time” as a working mother. I feel my long walks away from home chores, my daughter and work stress really keep me sane. In addition to relaxation, these regular outdoor moments also give me time and space to do some thinking… for my work and creative projects.
Walking does offer a lot of enjoyment for me too. I tremendously enjoy spending time in nature and observing different weather conditions and different seasons. In the winter, I am not afraid spending time outdoors even when it’s pitch black and cold. After all, for me and for Finns in general, different weather conditions are just a matter of putting the right outdoors clothes on. During the dark winter evenings, I enjoy taking solitary walks near the sea and being able to watch the starry sky. And during these wintery walks, I have been lucky to see the Northern Lights occasionally too. I often listen to the radio, music or audiobooks while I walk, which gives me an opportunity to either unwind or learn something new too.
Sometimes I go out for a walk with a friend, and the walking time gives a wonderful chance to catch up or talk about our worries related to our children or work or talk about the latest films we have seen or books we have read.
I strongly think (and also many studies confirm this too) that spending time outdoors regularly and doing exercise also helps you cope with potential seasonal mood disorders that might affect some people during the darker winter months. I myself sometimes feel completely exhausted after the work day and days being completely dark after 4 pm in the winter, I would rather just stay at home and sit on the sofa. But usually after a brisk walk, however dark it is outside, I feel like a completely different person, totally refreshed.
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert and she writes books about the Finnish way of life for the Asian market.