What Do You Think About When You Walk?

Chippewa River Trail

Chippewa River Trail

I was just wondering… what do you think about when you walk?  I have the most extraordinary, and sometimes the most creative thoughts when I walk.  Tell me… do you?

It seems to me that my thought process is guided by the “tune” I am listening to at the time.  I have a playlist on my iTunes that sets the pace I walk.  And it tends to set the thought pattern too.

Take my all-time favorite tune – “This Old Heart” by Rod Stewart.”  This is the theme of my “new” life (since heart disease), the title of my blog, and the personification of who I now am.  My thoughts are succinctly and poignantly captured in my very first posting “This Old Heart of Mine,”  on this blog, penned back almost a year ago.  (Can you believe it!?  I have been doing this almost a year!)

Moving down my playlist, “I come to the song “Six Pack of Summer” by Phil Vassar.  This song sets a perfect pace for me with its rhythmic beat.  It has a “feel good” sense of well-being, reminding me of my good friend and former co-worker Marilyn.   It was years ago; I “twisted her arm” and coaxed her into walking home with me after a grueling work day.

I was accustomed to walking home every night, as my daughter was a working teenager at the time… and YES, she had my car.  I must add that I “liked” being forced to walk home after a long day of work.  There were definitely nights that I could hardly do it, but I had little alternative.  It is a little over 3 miles, but much of it is along the Chippewa River on a paved walking and biking trail – picturesque and peaceful.

It just so happened that the evening that Marilyn strolled home with me was hot, hot, hot – one of those “you could have fried an egg on the pavement” days.  It was the summer we had several 100-plus degree days all strung in a row.  I would not have been surprised to see a grazing goat or camel as it felt so desert-like with not even the slightest wisp of a breeze.

I love heat but – Marilyn — not so much!  We trekked along, chatting, gossiping, reflecting over the day of work.  Again, it was hot, hot, hot!

We made it over the railroad trestle walkway bridging us over the Chippewa River.  We slowly clobbered up some steep wooden stairs and made our way upward and near the highway.  Panting, sweating, dizzy, and exhausted, … we saw a “safe haven” in the distance… was it a mirage or was it a watering hole?

With our tongue hanging out and panting like a steadfast St. Bernard dog, we felt like we were in slow-motion, trying to make it to the salvation of hot and weary walkers – a local pub known as “Sweet Waters.”  How appropriate is that? (Sadly, it no longer exists.)

Ahhhh… yes, a watering hole … it was a quaint gathering spot for locals, offering a friendly ear after a hard day and lip smacking food and refreshing drinks.

We dragged each other in.  If nothing else, we needed to “cool down” or gulp down a glass of water.  We were desperate.  We really needed to rehydrate.  So we went in and plopped on the nearest bar stool.

How many times have you heard:  “There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day?!  Well, it is true!  (And actually, I really do not like beer!  Well, maybe if it’s Redd’s Apple Ale.)

Marilyn ordered her usual – a Michelob Light in a frosty mug.  Still breathless and barely able to speak, I nodded a tad, indicating I would have the same.

And then the friendly bartender set the refreshment in front of us.  It was in a frothy fix in an icy mug and so COLD and so thirst quenching and so full-flavored and so everything.   Sweet Waters was our little paradise on earth – at least for a short time.  We “thought we died and gone to heaven!”  Truly, we did.

Then they gave us some popcorn!  We were in heaven.

It was just Marilyn and me. There was no one demanding dinner or asking for homework help or needing an immediate ride somewhere.  There was no one from work commanding anything.    Yup, it was, indeed, heavenly.

Time just got away from us… not sure how it happened, but finally we were “refreshed” enough to finish our walk home.

We started out, slowly, no longer running on empty and with a new sense of “calm” and an “all is well with the world” peace of mind.

We did not make it far when I saw my husband’s car in the distance.

“Marilyn, I think that is Steve coming to pick us up!”  She responded with surprise:  “I guess we are a little later than our usual home arrival time.”

The car veered vigilantly curbside with Steve (my worried husband) peering out from the car window and restlessly proclaiming: “I thought I better come look for you, as it is getting dark.”  (This was a time “before cell phones” when one could instantly contact each other.)

“Oh, Thank You!  Yes, we did have a really long day at work today.”  We are so happy you came to get us.  Marilyn chimed right in:  “Oh Steve, we are so happy to see you!  It was one of those grueling days!  You are a life saver!”

To this day, Steve does not know that Marilyn and I were not at work all that time.  (He doesn’t read my blog either, so I am safe.)

And, to this day, the beer(s) I had at Sweet Waters Restaurant were the BEST beer(s) I ever had!  And the song, “Six Pack Summer” vividly brings that experience immediately to the forefront.

Now, I am hoping you all have some good thoughts when you walk too… because I want to hear them!  (I think I could write a posting on every song on my playlist!  Now there is a thought!)

Long story short and bottom line, listening and reflecting on music can be good for the heart.

Merely listening to music can calm your spirit, make you laugh or conversely, make you shed a tear or two.

Music can be healing for the mind and body.  It can ease your recovery after a cardiac procedure or any surgery and lead you back to a “normal” life.  It is a known stress reliever and even may lower your blood pressure and heart rate.  Music can soothe pain and promote sleep.  Illness and chronic conditions make many feel as though we have little control over our lives.  Music can provide a soothing coping strategy and impart a sense of control.

Turn to music as part of your recovery as you learn to cope with any condition.

Psychology Today reports:  that listening to your favorite music is good for your heart.  “Scientists have confirmed that listening to your favorite songs literally reduces your risk for heart disease by improving endothelial function of your blood vessels.”  This process occurs, promoting the inner lining of the blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow.  This is the same reaction that researchers found with laughter.  The laughter, as well as the listening to music, increases the production of nitric oxide.  (EECP is known to increase production of nitric oxide too.)

Moving to the beat of your favorite playlist of tunes will get you moving – and act as a jump-start to exercise.  In a study at the University of Utah known as “Move it and Lose It: Every Brisk Minute Counts, researchers found that “short bursts of brisk activity add up to weight loss.”

Music helps distract from the discomfort and weariness of exercise while enhancing mood and reducing effort, or so it seems.

It also enhances mood and increases endurance.  Creating a perfect music list, with the perfect beat and rhythm, along with my favorite tunes, provides the optimal workout.

The right music can give you a competitive edge helping you achieve peak performance and add satisfaction to your workout.  The beat of the song coordinates movement and moves one forward.

In all sincerity, please, share what goes through your mind when you take your daily walk?

I would love to know your favorite walking songs.  I really need some new tunes on my walking playlist.

Keep on walkin’…

Take care of your heart. 

2 Comments on “What Do You Think About When You Walk?”

  1. I listen to all Christian music…I walk feeling like I am not in this world but with our Father. My worries and concerns are released, and HE is my center of my thoughts and prayers. In my second walk of the day (summer only) I say the rosary. When walking gets tough, I play MAMA MIA! That song really gives me a swift step. THANKS FOR SHARING ONCE AGAIN!!!! Off for my walk soon before the storms come…hopefully. otherwise, I have to hit the stairs!!!!

    • Theresa, I love your perspective and often listen to Christian music when I walk too. I believe many people pray and meditate when they walk – all so heart-healthy! Mama Mia is on my playlist as well. You are right; It is a great stepping tune. Thank you for your response. I already got my walk in this morning, but it was short because of the rain. I am hoping to get back outside during a lull.

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