How my passion for walking helps me inspire others

I used to be a runner, but about sixteen years ago my sister-in-law, Edwina, and I discovered the joys of walking after we started regular Saturday morning walks. She was a “road runner” like me, but we both found the walk a great way to slow down, enjoy the scenery and each other’s company, while getting a great workout.

Edwina and I loved walking so much that we started a group in 2006 called “The Sista Circle”, a walking group meant to inspire and help others stay active. We wanted to create a circle of women who shared a common interest and could be there to encourage each other to be the best. Anyone who sees us and wishes to join us is welcome to do so. So far we have a group of about 15 women, ranging in age from 30 to 82! We now have regular walks with the group on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Each week I map out different routes exploring different sections of our beautiful island of Bermuda. During the week, everyone continues to walk and exercise, but not necessarily with the group.

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Over the years we have seen an improvement in ladies walking. If someone joins and is unable to complete the full distance, they can change the route to a distance that works best for them. Our walks are long and hilly, but we try to limit the number of descents because it’s easier on the knees. Our walks are always engaging and inspiring – we keep a steady pace, stopping every once in a while to take a photo if we see anything interesting. We occasionally have social functions and we also walk for charity. Walking with my “Sista Circle” is a great way to stay consistent.

My journey on foot was extremely rewarding. Just being able to go out and enjoy the day is truly a blessing. Walking costs you nothing, but the rewards are priceless. The things I used to browse in the past, I now stop and explore. It allows me to stay in the moment and put aside the worries of the day for a little while. It reminds me to be grateful and to appreciate all that life has to offer, to enjoy the simple pleasures, like taking a good deep breath and feeling the breeze on my face.

There was a time when I developed a clot in my calf about three years ago and walking became a real challenge for me. Just venturing across the street felt like twenty miles. But, I refused to throw the cards. I couldn’t join the “Sistas” for walks, which set me back. So I did what I had to do to get rid of the clot and get healthy: I took blood thinners for three months and slowly stayed active as best I could, but my leg was still very weak. With permission to continue my walks from my doctor, I decided to go back to where I was with the “Sistas”. It wasn’t easy at times, and I remember thinking to myself “if this pace is what it is, I’m glad I can walk, anyway. I will push myself to do a little better, if I can.

Over time, my leg got stronger and I can walk longer distances again. At some point I was able to start including hills as well as short 30 second jogs, all of which helped keep me strong. It wasn’t easy getting there, but I had to be patient with the process, rest and rehydrate properly, and still I do my best. Walking may not be a panacea, but it’s a way for me to show my heart some love.

I recommend walking to anyone looking to improve their cardiovascular fitness. It’s free. It costs you nothing and you can do it at any time. It can be done alone or with friends. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, your best is always good enough. You can always work to improve yourself. Be proud of yourself and share your accomplishments…you never know who you can inspire. Taking a walk with your heart is one of the best things you can do every day to find your happiness. Be encouraged.

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