Benefits of just ambling walks

Love this article from the NY Times. Had to share for your enjoyment,  even though it’s not about the business-issue-solving walks that I offer in Walks With Bliss. 

The beauty of a ‘walk and talk’   By Jancee Dunn

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Hello, fellow (and aspiring) walkers! This is the second installment of our monthlong newsletter series dedicated to the joys of ambling outdoors. This week, we’re walking and talking, taking a stroll with someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor or a partner — to deepen our sense of connection.
Some of my most rewarding conversations have happened while on foot. The exchanges seemed to flow more easily, as if our steps were setting the tempo for our speech. But there may be a simpler reason that walks draw people out: Research shows that it can be less stressful to talk to someone when you’re walking side by side, with minimal eye contact, than conversing face to face.

“When walking next to someone, a conversation becomes parallel play,” with each person “looking ahead yet connected by the exchange,” said Esther Perel, a couples therapist, author and host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin?”


To help you get the most out of your walking chats, I sought advice from Perel and Priya Parker, the author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters.”

Consider a theme.

Think about the sort of conversation you’d like to have ahead of time, Parker advised. If you’re feeling creative, you may even want to give it a title, she said. Parker suggested four:

Wander Walk: Choose a neighborhood or park you’ve never explored and “wander together and talk about things that don’t normally come up in everyday life,” Parker said.

Memory Lane: On this walk, talk about important memories that the other person may not know.
Struggle Stroll: You and your companion can take an opportunity to share something you’ve been struggling with “and just listen to one another, no advice, just deep listening,” Parker said.

Struggle Stroll: You and your companion can take an opportunity to share something you’ve been struggling with “and just listen to one another, no advice, just deep listening,” Parker said.

Walk and Talk: No need to structure your chats; simply meet for movement instead of sitting at a bar, restaurant or someone’s home. “We walk and we talk, about anything and everything,” Parker said.

Or prep a few prompts.

Walking invites easy conversation because we’re often more relaxed and open to tangents, Parker explained. “And it’s really hard to check your phone incessantly when you’re on a walk with someone else,” she said. “You’ll trip.”

There’s no pressure to come up with thought-provoking questions — simply spending time together on a ramble, away from screens and obligations, builds bonds. But prompts can make a walk more fun. Perel, a master of getting people to open up, offered a few reliable ones (some from the upcoming version of her card game, “Where Should We Begin: A Game of Stories”) to engage people in more thought-provoking discussions:

  • What’s a promise you wish you hadn’t broken?
  • The trip that changed my life was …
  • The thing that’s keeping me up at night is …
  • If my younger self could see me today, they would say …
  • My most unexpected friendship is with …

One of Parker’s favorite ways to begin a dialogue is to ask: “Have you ever had a nemesis? Why do you think they got so under your skin?”

“This often leads to passionate, quite hilarious conversation,” Parker said, adding that “it’s slightly transgressive, slightly naughty.”

Embrace the flow of conversation.

When we’re walking with another person, Parker said, the social norms around silence and talking tend to shift. “It’s OK to take a beat, which is its own kind of intimacy,” she said. “Some of the best and most random conversations often happen after long periods of silence.”
And if you’re in need of a walking companion, consider joining a group. GirlTrek is a network of over one million Black women who connect to walk in neighborhoods around the country. EverWalk, a national initiative co-founded by the swimmer Diana Nyad, organizes walking events, clubs and challenges.

Meet Martinus Evans, a beloved figure among runners in the back of the pack.

The Slow AF Run Club, a virtual running group for people who have felt left out of the sport, was founded by Martinus Evans. He began running in 2012, after an orthopedic surgeon told him to “lose weight or die,” and laughed at Evans’s vow to run a marathon. Evans, now a certified running coach, has since run eight.

Read the story: One Man’s Mission to Make Running Everyone’s Sport

Expressing gratitude feels good — but it’s also a powerful way to improve your well-being.

Research suggests that a grateful outlook has been shown to have positive effects on our psychological health — and even our physical health. Regularly expressing gratitude helps connect us more closely with others, too. An easy way to build gratitude, one expert said, is to link it to a daily habit, like thinking of what you’re grateful for as you turn on your computer.

Read the story: Gratitude Really Is Good for You. Here’s What the Science Shows.

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If you are unable to walk but want a short, mindfulness moment at work, check out the Epic Leadership Journeys: Transformational Travel Wisdom card deck from my friend and sensei, Sylvia Warren, Executive Coach.

Better yet! Take a vacation with her Epic Leadership Journeys MasterClass in Insight, Innovation & Impact — an immersive creative and revelatory experience in a Wisdom Circle of Inclusive Women Leaders. during your “lunch break” (does anyone take an actual “lunch break” anymore?) Leader or not, you’ll find value in both of these wonderful offerings.


Special thanks to Stephanie Casenza for sharing this article, and being a wise advisor in the creation of a research project for Walks with Bliss.

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