January 2022: And We Walk

picture of girl walking on beach with text and we walk

Note: Last month, I started a newsletter, and we walk, separate from my personal website on Substack. I really enjoyed the quick and easy setup and it gave me nostalgic vibes of Posterous. But to keep things simple, I’ll be sharing my And We Walk monthly posts right here. Eventually, I may set up a separate newsletter for people interesting only in my hiking snafus, but in the meantime, I’m just going to write.


On the first Monday of each month, I’ll share pictures from New England walks, interesting research, and maybe even a nature-themed micro-story. Pour a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.

Walk of the month

Acadia National Park, Maine

December 2021. Weather:??

Picture of Jordan Pond from December with text and we walk

A few weeks ago, I drove up to Mount Desert Island with my family. It was my fourth winter trip to Acadia National Park and was terrific. One of my favorite things about this park is that it offers many ways to enjoy nature; even those like my mum with limited mobility can experience it.

Unlike past trips where I’d layer up and take long, meandering walks in the park with breathtaking ocean views, my focus was to share my love of the park with family.

Acadia National Park Off-Season

It’s quiet.

In the winter, the park and many nearby tourist destinations are shuttered, so Acadia is restful, although a chilly place to visit in the off-season. We didn’t get in too many long walks, but visited the open areas of the park loop multiple days to see the sights. And the coffee shop… so many times.

Between December and April, part of the park and the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain are closed, so pick another time if you want to see all that’s offered. Keep in mind; it’s a heavily trafficked park in the summer.

Some of my favorite spots

From my solo trip to Acadia

Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, & Bar Island

We didn’t make it to Bar Island, since it’s only accessible during low tide. Thunder Hole is tide-dependent, too, and we went twice but never caught the big waves or booms on this trip. Next trip, we will try stargazing at Sand Beach or Hunter’s Beach.

We didn’t visit all my favorites this time around, but you can’t ever squeeze it all in. It was beautiful, relaxing, and thankfully not too far away, so we plan another family trip soon.

I found myself comparing our laid-back walks by the coast to some recent “power walks” with my sister back home. I’m naturally slower (and shorter) than her and recall how she was zipping down the trail while I dawdled behind. It reminded me of some research ?

Walking speed linked to lifespan

Multiple studies indicate gait speed can impact life expectancy. One small study with just over 200 participants found “positive correlations between the overall fitness level and walking speed” and that maximum walking speed had a greater impact on someone’s fitness than usual walking speed [1]Wu, Tingting, and Yanan Zhao. “Associations between Functional Fitness and Walking Speed in Older Adults.” Geriatric Nursing, vol. 42, no. 2, 2021, pp. 540–543., … Continue reading. I liked that takeaway since my strolling pace is much slower than my “get the shopping done” stride.

Troves of studies have used gait speed as a diagnostic tool for cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and stroke recovery. A really interesting study with almost 4,000 patients concluded it wasn’t only those who had slower walking speeds but those with “a greater decline in speed over time were at greater risk of developing dementia”[2]Hackett, R.A., Davies-Kershaw, H., Cadar, D., Orrell, M. and Steptoe, A. (2018), Walking Speed, Cognitive Function, and Dementia Risk in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. J Am Geriatr Soc, … Continue reading. Hackett et al. suggested a few probable reasons for a more marked decline in walking speed, such as neurodegeneration, vascular risks, and inflammation.

Why am I going on this tangent?

You will probably be inundated with weight loss articles and tips at the beginning of a new year. It could be easy to fall down the rabbit hole, ? I’m here right now. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the should and shouldn’t do’s you may encounter online.

Both studies above share insightful data that can shape how health professionals assess and treat people as they age. Yet, that is only one bit of a bigger picture.

I’m not contesting that walking faster to improve cardiovascular health, brain function, joint mobility, etc., isn’t important.

However, my leisurely walks last month over crunchy dead leaves and slippery rocks weren’t preventative measures to live longer, but to enjoy each step.

and we walk. walking on sand beach at acadia national park

Walking takeaway

Each walk has its own purpose;

it’s okay if you don’t break a sweat every time.

I have so much more to say about the fundamental function of walking but will leave the subject, for now, with this inspiring post about “Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity.”

Some of my links in case you missed them:

Likes:

? Herb I’m studying this month: Blue vervain.

? I’m still new to Substack and have been pondering this fantastic post all weekend: Why Walk? on The Understory

? Book to read: Walking: One Step At a Time

It’s supposed to be delivered today, but I’m sharing it with you, hoping I will complete it by February!

? This video is 3 hours long, but I’ve only recently discovered Jason Lewis on YouTube, and it helped me survive chemistry last term. Headphones make all the difference.

Where are you walking this month?

References[+]

2 thoughts on “January 2022: And We Walk

    1. Yes, I’ve always enjoyed your pictures that you share along the way! I find nature to be really helpful for my writing too. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy

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