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  • Writer's pictureHeather Di Santo

Creating Connection Through the Simple Act of Walking

"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."~ John Muir

In today's fast-paced world, filled with distractions and the glorification of busy, it's easy to lose sight of the simple joys of life. Yet, amidst the chaos, there exists a timeless activity that not only nurtures our physical health but also cultivates deeper connections with ourselves, others, and the world around us: walking.

This synergistic movement can become your lifeblood, one step at a time.

Hugging a tree

Throughout 2020 I challenged myself to walk 5 kilometers (I’m a Canadian…we talk in metrics) outside every day. This year, I’ve changed the goal to walking 1k to 12k per day because I realized that going five every day took up a lot of my valuable time, it wasn’t sustainable when I encouraged others to do it too, and the larger distances are preparation for my hike and climb of Machu Picchu this coming May.

Nevertheless, the reason why I walk is because the activity has given me strength; physically, mentally, and emotionally. As with any exercise, most people will say that they feel better after they did it despite

never wanting to start in the first place. I’ve always wished I could bottle and sell that feeling in some way.

The Power of Walking

Walking is a fundamental human activity, ingrained in our evolutionary history. From our ancestors' nomadic wanderings to modern-day strolls through city streets, walking has been an integral part of the human experience. However, its significance goes beyond mere getting from point A to point B.

Physiologically, walking offers a plethora of health benefits. It strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and boosts mood by releasing endorphins – our body's natural mood elevators. In addition, walking outdoors exposes us to sunlight, increasing our vitamin D levels and enhancing overall well-being. These physical benefits alone make walking a worthwhile activity, but its true value lies in its ability to foster connections on a deeper level.

Connection with Self

Through any given day, many of us are constantly bombarded with external stimuli, leaving little time for introspection and self-reflection. Walking provides a rare opportunity to disconnect from the digital noise and reconnect with ourselves. As we move through space, our minds are free to wander, allowing us to process thoughts, clarify emotions, and gain fresh perspectives on life's challenges.

Walking can also serve as a form of meditation, promoting mindfulness and presence in the moment. By focusing on the rhythm of our footsteps and the sensation of our breath, we can quiet the chatter of our minds and tap into a deeper sense of inner peace. In this way, walking becomes a sacred ritual, a time to nurture our relationship with ourselves and honor our innate need for solitude and self-discovery.

Think outside the box

Challenge # 1

I challenge you to go for a walk outside by yourself today. Before you go, ask yourself: How do I feel right now on a scale from 1–10?

Ten being ‘I’m amazing and everything is possible’.

Ask yourself with no judgement and don’t overthink it. Take note of the number you said to yourself. Now head out on your walk. If this is something you already do, walk a little longer than usual. I also invite you to grab your headphones and listen to your favorite up-beat playlist along your way.

You are encouraged to vary the speed of your walk to the beat of the music. Lose your inhibitions and feel the vibes. Dance walk, sing, reminisce, and enjoy the variety of tunes available and let your mind run wild.

Once you’re back home, take note again, how do you feel right now on a scale from 1-10?

Has the number increased?

Connection with Others

While walking can be a solitary pursuit, it also has the power to bring people together. Whether it's a leisurely stroll with a friend, a romantic walk with a partner, or a group hike in nature, walking provides an ideal setting for meaningful conversations and shared experiences.

The act of walking side by side creates a sense of intimacy and camaraderie, breaking down barriers and fostering open communication. Without the distractions of screens or the pressures of face-to-face interaction, people often feel more relaxed and willing to connect on a deeper level. In this way, walking becomes a catalyst for building and strengthening relationships, allowing us to bond with others in a profound and authentic way.

A way that I’ve enjoyed incorporating walking into my business is through netwalking. Combining networking with walking. This is not a unique-to-me concept but one that is gaining popularity all over the world and is even trademarked in the U.S. by a beautiful human named Jessica Tunon from Washington D.C.

Instead of meeting in a traditional office setting or from behind your computer screen, take your meetings outdoors and let the natural environment inspire creativity and collaboration. Netwalking not only promotes physical activity in the workplace but also fosters meaningful connections in a relaxed and informal setting.

I recently asked my group of netwalkers why they join me.  Their responses did not surprise me; they were delightful:

🚶‍♀️ love to walk

🙂 reason to get out of the house

👍 meet new people

🤗 support friends who create unique opportunities

🥰 fits my schedule and my interests

🌞 like to be outside

Challenge # 2

Whether you are a 9-to-5’er or an entrepreneur, I invite you to create a netwalking event in your community. Encourage people to join you for a leisurely and safe walk and talk. Whether it be through the downtown streets, along a trail, or in the park; the idea here is to create connections, conversations, networking opportunities, and fun for all.

You could even add in challenge # 1 and ask everyone who attends to monitor their mood before and after the netwalk.

Connection with Nature

Over the past few years, many of us have become disconnected from the natural world, spending much of our time indoors and often in a sedentary and zoned out state. Walking provides an opportunity to rekindle our relationship with nature and experience its restorative powers firsthand.

Whether it's a stroll through a local park, a hike in the mountains, or a walk along the beach, immersing ourselves in natural surroundings has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. The sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors awaken our senses and remind us of our place in the larger and amazing web of life. In doing so, walking not only nurtures our connection with nature but also instills a sense of gratitude for the world and people around us.

Inspirational Quote

Challenge # 3

While you’re on your walk, hug a tree. This may sound crazy; however, the benefits are undeniable. Trees have been among us for centuries and those underworld roots connect us all. In addition to walking, hugging a tree is proven to reduce stress, increase happiness, lower blood pressure and physically wrapping your arms around a tree trunk as is act of affection or connection with yourself and nature.

Conclusion: Embrace the Journey

In a world that often feels polarized and disconnected, walking serves as a powerful antidote, bringing us back to ourselves, to each other, and to the natural world. Its simplicity has a profound impact on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, making it a practice worthy of cultivation in our daily lives.

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by the demands of your life, take a step outside, and go for a walk. Whether alone or in the company of others, let the rhythm of your footsteps guide you towards a deeper sense of connection – with yourself, with those around you, and with the world at large. Smile when you walked past someone. They may not smile back but I can guarantee if they saw you, the ripple effect was felt.

And here's a tip: While walking, practice active listening. Allow yourself to truly engage with the conversations and the surroundings. Put away distractions and let the experience unfold naturally. By being fully present in the moment, you'll not only deepen your connections but also enrich your experience of the journey. And you’ll very likely learn a lot about yourself, create fantastic collaborations, and gain new perspectives that you can bring to your life.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this soul enriching part of my life and business with the Meaningful Synergies community. Their mission to encourage and help happy people shine and vision to empower zeal & zest in the world is inspiring!

A movement, like walking, I’m proud to put my energy behind. 😉


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