The Life-Changing Magic of Taking a Walk

5 minutes

I went for a walk today. I go for a walk every day now. Today was my favorite kind of walking day: It was cold enough to need a jacket but not enough to sting when the wind blows. The light was diffused through gray clouds, but the humidity of late summer still hangs low to the ground, amplifying the smells of burning pinion wood or grilling steaks. I turned the music up—slow, crawling, sad ballads by Willie Nelson, Miranda Lambert, Patty Griffin, and Johnny and Rosanne Cash.

Walking has always been my way of grounding myself in a place. As a teen, I walked all over my hometown of Weatherford, especially when I was there with my dad during the summers. I walked home from school in south Oklahoma City most days in junior high and a few in high school. I perambulated all over my North Carolina college campus and the beautiful Reynolda Gardens next door, and I lived for four months in Venice, where the only ways to move from here to there were boats and footpaths—the city has no cars—and I was too cheap to pay for the boats almost all the time.

Even now, when we travel, my husband and I mostly just like to walk. In 2018, we spent a long weekend in Los Angeles for his fortieth birthday, and one of the first things we did was walk from our AirBnB in West Hollywood all the way up to the Sunset Strip. Just to see what there was to see, I suppose. We’ve walked various random stretches of San Francisco and Las Vegas; Santa Fe and Denver; Dublin and D.C.; New York and Nashville. Occasionally, we have a vague destination in mind; other times, we know where we’re going but take the long way over or walk when we could call a Lyft. Occasionally, we’ve regretted it. Mostly, it’s why we’re there.

Photo by Mabel Amber

Photo by Mabel Amber

When Oklahoma Today’s offices were in First National Center, I got in the habit of walking a lap or two around the Myriad Botanical Gardens every day around lunch—a habit I’m happy to have picked back up since our recent move into the Oklahoma Commons building. A time or two, I even extended my walk to cut through Scissortail Park, burning a few extra calories and enjoying the new green space. When we work on deadline at Steven Walker’s office in Midtown, the proximity to the Heritage Hills and Mesta Park neighborhoods makes for a perfectly quiet, scenic stroll.

During the six months we worked from home, I began including my dog, Fred, on my daily lunchtime walks. She always came back happy and panting and ready to go back out, and I always felt I had a clearer head than on days when I scarfed lunch while continuing to work. Now that we’ve gone back to the office—a development for which I am deeply thankful—Fred and I do our walks at night. She sniffs the ground and meets other dogs; I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, favorite albums, and great playlists (I highly recommend the “Africa Now” playlist on Apple Music).

Daily walks with Fred keep my head clear. Photo by Nathan Gunter

Daily walks with Fred keep my head clear. Photo by Nathan Gunter

It’s not any kind of a fitness plan, and I look forward to the day when I’m steady enough on my feet to start running again. But even then, I’ll always cherish the slow, easy pace, where you can tell which directions the smells come from, and when it gets dark early, and the air is cold and dry, the stars sparkle like Christmas decorations someone put up early because they just couldn’t wait.

Written By
Nathan Gunter

Nate is an enthusiastic runner and cyclist and frequently can be seen making his way by foot or pedal through Oklahoma City streets. When not working, Nate is reading, writing, watching movies, playing video games, working in his garden, attending concerts, or taking off on road trips.

Nathan Gunter
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