An afternoon stroll is good for the brain…and for the dog

After reading Chapter 6 of Joy of Movement and learning why exercising outside is helpful, I decided to make an extra effort to get outside for my exercise this week.

Of course, the best way to encourage myself to do that was to take Khalee for a walk at around the same time everyday. 

A light-coloured medium-sized dog stands on pavement that is partially covered in snow.
Even Khalee is a bit tired of the snow.

Choosing the same time (around 5pm) was useful because it took away some of my ADHD-related challenges around starting to exercise, having the routine made Khalee come to me looking for her walk, and because I made it a fixed point in my schedule, my brain started to include it as part of the landscape of my day. In only 6 days, I already started to plan supper around my walk at that time  – either starting things cooking before I left or planning a meal that could be prepared quickly when I returned. 

And, to make it easier for me to stay out for at least 30 minutes, I chose a route before I left. If I leave for a walk without making a plan, my brain won’t go into the expansive mode that McGonigal mentions in her book. Instead, I spend my whole walking considering if I have walked far enough and if I should take the next turn.

This week’s weather has been all over the place – flurries, rain, freezing cold, bright sunshine, and today, temperatures warm enough that I could almost leave my sweatshirt at home. (I live in Newfoundland, I know better than to go off in May without a sweatshirt but it *was* pretty warm for most of my walk.) For several of those days, my commitment to my plan (and to my dog) was the only thing that got me out the door – cold, windy days don’t make for fun walking – but once I was out, I was fine.

A light-haired dog stands on a curb, the shadows of two people are on the pavement next to her.
Bonus: On Friday, Khalee and I had my son’s company on our walk.

And, I feel calmer over all. I like having a specific time for a walk, I like having this as part of my daily routine, and I like how my brain feels when I’m out strolling along. 

Eventually, I will probably make my walks a little longer or I will choose more challenging routes but for right now, I am enjoying this consistent effort and I am going to stick with it for a while.

Khalee votes yes.

A light-haired dog with her tongue sticking out walks along some pavement.
You can’t see her tail here but trust me, she was excited to be out in the sunshine..

The snout and front paw of a light-haired dog who is sniffing at some winter-dried grass.
So many things to sniff!

PS – For the record, I am not the only person who can/does take Khalee for a walk. Please don’t assume that she wasn’t getting out before now, I have been just been more consistent with the timing this week.

2 thoughts on “An afternoon stroll is good for the brain…and for the dog

  1. Ohhh Khalee is so beautiful! My childhood dog had markings like that. I’ve had the Joy of Movement on my wishlist for so long now, really enjoy Kelly McGonigal’s other stuff so can’t wait to read it. Glad you had a good walk 🙂

    1. Thank you on Khalee’s behalf! I hope seeing her brought good memories. 💚

      Joy of Movement was a really good book and really helped me a lot. I highly recommend it!

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