Retirement communities are particularly well-suited to walking. They usually are gated and sometimes have security patrols. They have been designed to include walking paths or trails. As you walk them, you feel more secure. You feel free to venture out alone. You really have no excuse for not taking advantage of these ideal conditions. Sure there are treadmills available in the clubhouse, but there is nothing like a walk outside. The fresh air, the sunshine, the animals and birds, flowers and other people enjoying walks are all invigorating.
Come take a walk with me. Today is one of the finest days you could have for a walk. Imagine a day where the sun is out with no clouds and the temperature is 75 with no humidity. That is what today is like. It is the third of April and the flowering trees have been waiting for a day like today to burst into full bloom. The first blooming trees, cherries, apples and magnolias perfume the air.
Today has inspired me to take a longer walk in my community than I ever have done before and I have some anxiety about it. There is a 3-mile perimeter around my retirement community. I usually walk a path that is about one mile but today I want to get more exercise. I am taking my cell phone, my camera, my tape recorder and a bunch of anxiety. Anxiety because I don't know what to expect on such a long walk, considering my sixty-something age, and because a certain amount of anxiety comes with age. However, I think I need to do this for this very reason. I believe it's good to get out and do things where I am not 100% sure of the outcome and provides some adventure.
I always think a long walk will be too boring but I have recently begun to take a camera and have started to enjoy photography. I suggest you take your camera If you are afraid a walk of this length will be boring and look for things to photograph as a way to make the time pass quickly. Some people prefer to listen to music. Think of something you can do along the way. Otherwise, you will be surprised at how much you will discover on your walk.
As I start out I am happy to find there are short cuts along the way, it is quite scenic and I am glad I am doing it. I remind myself I have my cellphone to call my husband to come get me if I need to. On my right there is a deep pond encircled with the fluffy white flowers of apple trees and a row of bright yellow forsythias on my left. My anxiety calms down a little because I have gotten to some points faster than I thought. The high tension and excitement I feel makes me wonder if the next time I do the walk it may be boring.
I am already up to the second clubhouse. It's going well. I used to walk as a young girl alone through the woods behind our home for hours. I can still remember the wonder I felt at a particular oak tree that was strong and tall and I see oak trees here and have that same wonder today. Oh, just next to the sidewalk, here is something I love, a flowering magnolia. I know enough about plants to know it has a sweet fragrance like lilies. I bend over to smell these delicate white blossoms and it refreshes me. I then am surprised to see the sidewalk comes to a sudden abrupt ending. I look across the street and there is another sidewalk so I cross the street and continue on.
I see a condominium building in the distance that looks like the one close to my house so I am encouraged. On the other side of the street, I see the Japanese garden now that I love to walk around and am tempted to go there. I decide not to take the chance it would make the walk too long, but I compromise and sit on the bench to view the garden and fountains from here. I don't sit long but continue on. There is a grove of woods to my left now that have been left natural and the way it looked 50 years ago. There is something unexpectedly beautiful about a natural scene that is uplifting. I see a bench but keep going.
A little discovery-don't sit too long on benches because it is harder to get your momentum going again. I take a deep breath. I see my street already. I feel my anxiety ease. I feel good after this walk and it wasn't that bad at all. After an hour, I am almost home.
After a short nap, the rest of the day I felt better than I have in a long time. A longer walk wasn't anything to be afraid of after all and I decide I will do it again tomorrow.
Reminder: the American Heart Association now recommends exercising an hour or more most days of the week.
For retirement communities with walking trails, go to my website
Carol Fena, Realtor and Webmaster for http://www.bestguide-retirementcommuni