3 reasons to start walking for personal growth

betty ming liu Health, Inspiration 8 Comments

I’ve starting going for walks. This will shock anyone who knows me. As a busy, indoors-y kind of gal, walking always felt so boring. But that’s only because my world was too small. These days, walking opens me up. I’m part of a bigger landscape, a bigger story, a bigger sky.

Of course, once a city kid, always a city kid. Growing up in Manhattan’s Chinatown, home was a 23rd floor high-rise apartment. My idea of walking? Shopping cute stores and eating out. Walking had to be convenient with exciting visuals.

When I explained my priorities to a walking-fanatic friend, she invited me on a stroll. We went to her favorite place. She said I would really, really like it. She was right: birdsTibbetts Brook Park is in Yonkers, N.Y. At last, the outdoors on terms that meet my comfort zone.

It’s only a 10-minute drive from my house to this lush, 161-acre oasis. Most importantly, I love the tidy joy of wandering well-maintained paths. They’re black-topped, just like in Central Park, where I spent my youth. No muddy shoes for me!


The setting feels like a big hug to my Inner Nature Girl. I’m even trying solitary walks, which feel far from lonely. With trees, the breeze and birds galore, I’m in great company. And wow, the benefits of walking go on and on.

3 benefits to walking outdoors 

Walking outdoors makes me happy. When sun hits our skin, our bodies naturally make Vitamin D. Sadly most of us suffer from D-deficiency; we’re indoors too much. Research shows that people with mental issues and depression are low in Vitamin D. Lack of D also leads to frail bones.

Walking in nature is a meditation. Escaping to the woods frees me from worry. Even the simple-but-difficult act of getting to the park is huge. Getting there forces me to break routine and get perspective. Right now, falling leaves remind me that dying is beautiful — a reminder to let go.

Walking offers a creative boost. Wandering is incredibly therapeutic. It takes my goal-focused head and throws me into landscape mode. The overthinking settles down. I soften enough to absorb the colors, shapes and textures around me. Random emotions surface. I like it.

park collage

What next?

With Thanksgiving done, we’re sliding into full-blast holiday madness. This is when I usually freak out over social pressure to make merry and make money. I want 2016 to be different. Maybe walking can save me.

Hmm, I’m wondering how walkers carry on in rain, cold and snow. Might have to walk myself into a store like REI for some retail therapy. Any excuse to buy new shoes or clothes, haha.

Do you walk or have relaxation solutions to share? Would love to hear your reflections, advice or tips. xo

Comments 8

  1. Dear Betty,

    Thank you for this inspirational message!! I know that I need to walk more and find a way to really enjoy it; reading this gives me motivation to do it! And, the reminders about the therapeutic benefits of walking are what I needed to hear!

    It is a sunny day here in central NJ. I am going for a walk now!

    Much love,

    Lenora Green

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      Lenora! You just made my day. Every blogger dreams of posting a call to action that actually works. So here you are, taking action. Now, you’re motivating me to get out there too. I appreciate your teamwork! I’ll go in a little while, right after my daughter packs up and goes back to school after her Thanksgiving break. xo

  2. Knee surgery has cut back on my walking but I am slowly getting there. I walk a mile or two or three with no earphones or distractions. Amazing how it’s both calming and creative. often get ideas for writing or how to edit a piece I am working on. Go betty!

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      Wow, Mary, multiple miles? I’m inspired! When I walk, I still pull out my iPhone way too much. Thanks for reminding me to stay calm and unplugged.

      Btw, a few years back, I saw an orthopedist because my knees were aching like mad. He advised me to take off a few pounds, which helped. He also said to walk in order to hang onto joint mobility. “Use it or lose it,” he said. So that thought inspires me too.

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      Gayle, thanks for that link — and wow, the incident happened at noon, the middle of the day. That’s pretty bad. Well, I debated whether to add a few more words about Tibbetts being in Yonkers. So here’s my opportunity to say more!

      Yonkers has such a negative reputation as a blighted city. And yes, there are some pretty rough neighborhoods. But Tibbetts benefits from being a Westchester County-run park. And from what I’ve seen, our tax dollars are hard at work!

      When I’ve gone there during the day, there’s always country park maintenance trucks around. The workers actually greet my friend by name. And the bathrooms — amazing how clean they are.

      In the summer, Tibbetts takes on an amusement park personality because of its water park-style swimming pool facilities. Okay, maybe not as fancy as a real water park but still, pretty impressive.

      If you ever want to take a walk in Tibbetts, let me know! And thanks for caring. I appreciate the love. :)

  3. Betty, I have always loved to walk, especially travelling to new cities. But lately, I have been buried in indoor activities. With the anxiety-provoking election and aftermath, however, I felt like I had to get out and see nature, clear my mind, and just “keep going” which walking represents to me. So, for each of the past four days, beginning with Thanksgiving morning, I have walked along the canal towpath in suburban Washington, DC for five miles. I come back refreshed, invigorated, and ready to get my work done. It will be harder during workdays but I am committed to walking a few miles everyday to regain my peace. It takes time but is a worthwhile investment as it makes every aspect of the rest of my day happier and more productive.

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      Saleya, thank you for giving us a sense of the D.C. mood right now. Imagining life in the nation’s capitol — that’s more than I can take in right now. Which makes the image of you walking and walking so beautiful. Walking every day is such a self-love goal. Go for it, girl! We’re rooting for you! And I’m grateful for your inspiration.

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