Walk the Walk

By: Jamie Vaughn, BSN, RN at St. Joseph Hospital

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a simple step”- Lao Tzu

I’m often asked, “why in the world would you ever get up at 4:30 AM to exercise?” Let me explain.

Each day that alarm goes off and I crawl out of bed while my husband and snoring dog continue to sleep in the warmth and darkness of the early morning hours. I get dressed in the clothes I’ve prepared the night before and head out the door, rain or shine, humid or crisp.  I’ve found that leaving the headphones at home has made all the difference in the world. Not only do I feel safer listening to my surroundings, but I’m able to focus and simply think. What am I grateful for? How can I make today great? Some of my greatest “ah ha” moments come while the rest of the world is sleeping.

Along my walks I get to witness the beauty of Maine through sun rises, new flowers, the changing of leaves, rabbits bouncing around or even deer cautiously wandering.

I also get to move my body in a way that is proven to improve health and doesn’t require much thought or planning. A few of the health benefits of walking include improved digestion, caloric burn and weight loss, strengthening of joints, improvement in chronic conditions such as hypertension or simply mood improvement.  As a nurse, I spend a great deal of time educating and advocating for health and nutrition. I understand it takes time and commitment to improve your health and walking can truly be a great way to do so. A word of advice: start slow and take it one step at a time. It’s worth it.