Says Shirer: "Walking helps to overcome fatigue. It aids circulation by speeding blood to the heart against the pull of gravity. It soothes the nervous system by creating rhythmic contractions that drain away anxiety, tension, and frustration."
How do you get the most out of walking? Shirer suggests a number of ways to make walking an enjoy able as well as healthy activity. Here are six ways adapted for our clergy man readers:
1. Select several walking routes. Using several different walking routes provides variety and cuts down on boredom. Determine a turn-about point one mile from the start, as indicated on your car's odometer. This establishes a two-mile course, which experience shows can be readily walked at a brisk pace in 40 minutes.
2. Take soul food along. Take a pocket Bible or a good, inspirational paperback book with you. At the end of your first 20 minutes out, find a quiet place to spend 20 more minutes feeding the spiritual man. Several recent studies have established a close correlation between good health and good religion (see "Good Life-style = Good Health" in the January, 1977, MINISTRY). If you have an office job you might find a fast (but nutritional) food restaurant near the end of your mile out or take your lunch with you. Even while eating, the inspirational reading can feed your soul.
3. Watch where you're going. Train yourself to look about you as you walk. Learn to appreciate God's world. Observe children, houses, buildings, flowers, grass, clouds.
Lift your heart to God and be aware of His presence.
4. Cultivate mental tranquility. Shirer suggests that you make your walk a solitary activity that allows your mind to float and forget routine business and problems. But companionship can also make your walk meaningful and pleasant.
5. Walk year around. Determine to make this a daily routine in all seasons—cold, hot, windy, and snowy. Of course, dress appropriately and wear substantial shoes and comfortable socks.
6. Check your mileage. Keep a tally every day of your accumulated mileage. If you were to walk 300 days each year, you could cover 600 miles! That's farther than walking from Washington, D.C., to Indianapolis, Indiana—a distance of only 558 miles.
Some people prefer jogging for exercise, but it can be too strenuous and "sweats up" traditional office clothing. Dr. Joseph Beninson, 57, a specialist at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital, cites an advantage of walking:
"Walking is better exercise than jogging because of less risk of dam aging your back. When you jog you come down on your heel and squash your back like an accordion."
Another benefit of walking is enhanced blood circulation; as brain cells are saturated with oxygen the mental powers can be used more effectively. One's whole outlook on life can be remarkably improved.
So why not start on a walking program? It will put you into a wonderful world where breezes blow, flowers bloom, children laugh, birds sing, and, best of all, a clear mind is more readily attuned to the voice of God.