By Teresa Dornellas
I recently started walking again. I used to take long walks around my neighborhood during the warmer months and I really enjoyed seeing the new blossoms during Spring and taking photos for my own pleasure.
I also used to work in Manhattan and had to walk a lot to get to and from work. However, in early February, I started working from home, and my daily steps were sharply reduced.
Then, the pandemic hit our state, and even the little walks I was taking here and there got cut short. For weeks, I stayed inside, working, planning, organizing – and thinking about going out for walks.
One Sunday night I finally decided it was time to start again. The next morning, I set out to walk right after breakfast. My goal was to walk daily as much as I used to, plus take a Yoga or Pilates or Barre class every evening.
For most of us, those initial weeks of lockdown were not easy. There was so much information, a lot of it very conflicting. No one was really sure about anything and there was so much fear in the air. I was concerned for our lives collectively, and for the future of my business, the health of my family and friends and the financial health of our country.
All that was taking a toll, and my emotional health wasn’t at a great place. I had made a decision and a promise to myself that, lockdown or not, I would not gain weight during this time. No overindulging, no overeating. I wanted to keep my body as healthy as possible, for obvious reasons.
I started walking at the height of Spring. The cherry blossoms were in full glory, and so were the magnolia tees – I am yet to decide which one is my favorite…
Plus there were so many amazing colors, the shades of green from the baby leaves returning after Winter, all those tiny flowers everywhere. I live in a very quiet neighborhood where there are lots of beautiful, well cared for gardens. See, I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where we have two seasons: hot and unbearably hot. So, in Rio we never see this explosion of color that we see here in New Jersey, which makes me walk around like a small kid in wonder.
The walks combined with the beauty have been doing so much for my emotional health. I can feel my mood changing minute by minute, with each step I take. It is almost as if I can feel the endorphins kicking in and transforming me, bringing me joy.
I won’t lie, some days I have to push myself. I make excuses. But once I start, I do not want to stop, that’s how good I feel.
There are so many studies showing the benefits of exercise for our emotional health. This article cites several of those.
Not to mention the benefits of vitamin D3, which is produced by our bodies when we expose our skin to the sun. Vitamin D3 is responsible for, among other things, strengthening our immune system and protecting us against certain types of cancer. You can read more on D3 here.
The daily walks combined with evening classes (Yoga, Pilates or Barre) were just what I needed to feel alive again and to feel a sense of freedom, gratitude and wonder – so important for our well-being.
I invite you to put your walking shoes on and take a walk outside (taking proper safety precautions for yourself and others, of course). Look around, let all the beauty in, take photos if you’d like, just for pleasure. Then join us in the evening for a class. Your body and your mind will thank you.