Who says walking has to be boring? Walking for me is not only exercise, but therapy as well. What started as a "hey let's catch up after work" turned into "a thing." We would meet after work a few nights a week and hit the pavement. We initially went to the same locations but then started mixing it up. For instance, added some retail therapy or some intense hills to push ourselves. We also started meeting Saturday mornings for a 4-5 mile round trip which included breakfast and mimosas. The possibilities were endless and all had one thing in common - that tired but satisfied feeling that comes with a good workout. Did I mention the therapy part? Sharing stories about work, family, life... can be a great stress relief.
Living in the Bay Area provides some of the best terrain for walking and exercise. We have parks, water, neighborhoods, shopping, trails - all within walking distance.
How we do it:
Destination - If you are walking with a friend, decide where you will be meeting and how far you want to go. Do you have any time restrictions or commitments that will impact your distance? We had 3-4 standing Happy Hour destinations with designated times which played a part when deciding our routes. Usually a home is our starting point, but remember if you are meeting somewhere else you will also have your keys and what not to worry about. The time change also played a part. In the winter when it is dark earlier, we chose walk routes that were lit up and had more traffic. We also know which venues get especially crowded. The only place I walk solo is the track at the local High School. I say solo, but that just means my husband is usually running while I'm walking but can still see me from anywhere on the track. Plus, there are always other people there. That is also the only place I use my earbuds.
Think about your neighborhood and I bet there are a million places to go. Here are some other ideas:
1. Crystal Springs Reservoir
2. Any downtown, i.e., Burlingame, San Mateo, San Carlos
3. Leo Ryan Park on the water (or any park)
4. Farmer's Market
5. Hills - the Bay Area is loaded
6. Retail Therapy - any place there is shopping
What to Bring - I've mentioned before, but I like to walk without carrying anything. I've found some great running belts (I talk about one on my gear review page) that now hold my phone, money, drivers license, lip gloss, etc. I do try to carry a water bottle. In the winter I like to layer and may wear a light jacket. Remember you will warm up quickly while walking but if you stop for any period of time, you will be cold again the moment you step outside. Restoration Hardware used to sell hand warmers which were great and fit right in your pocket. In the bay Area it can also be extremely windy, so some type of hat or beanie can come in handy. Warm weather is much easier to navigate. Even on hot days in the Bay Area the mornings can be chilly, so I will layer with a thin long sleeve top over a tank top or t-shirt so if it gets really hot I can tie it around my waist.
What we Eat - I know for some "Happy Hour" will have just a drinking connotation however for us it wasn't about that at all. It gave us a destination and a little something to look forward to at the end of a strenuous, brisk walk while also being cost effective. We share an appetizer we can both agree on (only one) and each have one drink - typically a light beer or glass of wine - and then we are on our way.
Safety - I do not like to walk alone so always have someone with me. You may think just because you are in the cross walk cars will slow down but this is not always the case. While we are immersed in conversation we are ALWAYS paying attention. The most dangerous places are typically freeway overpasses and it is not uncommon to see cars turning before you have even crossed the street, or worse, turning in front of you. You have to walk defensively and assume people don't see you or aren't looking! Sportswear with reflection is a good idea at night, as well as for our night walks we carry small pocket size flashlights (our were from Office Depot). If you are walking alone, they have many cool apps that pin your location so people know where you are in the event of an emergency. I also never leave the house without my phone.
Check out the "walking our way" link to explore our favorite walking destinations.