Ideas to Keep You Walking During the Holidays
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, taking a moment to walk can help you feel more peaceful. WalkArlington program manager Mary shares her favorite ideas of places to go and things to do.
The holidays can be a complicated time for many people. They can be joyous but can also bring up difficult feelings, including grief and loneliness. A good walk can often help you feel calm and refreshed. Whatever the holidays represent for you, try to incorporate walking for a boost in your overall mood.
I’m finding that I enjoy my walks and my time outside more than ever. Here are some of my favorite ideas of places to go and things to do in Arlington.
Plan a Thematic Walk
Hot Drink + Nature Walk:
Find your nearest wooded area, make yourself your favorite hot drink, and take it to-go. Sip and reflect on your walk.
Be creative by coming up with themes for photos: look for certain colors, document the same object or view every day, or take selfies.
Decide on the turn-around point for your walk: it should be someplace where you can sit that is quiet and peaceful. Walk there, sit down, and set a timer on your phone or fitness tracker for at least five minutes. Then, force yourself to sit there quietly and reflect. Do not look at your phone. Try writing in a journal, breathing deeply, listening to the birds, people-watching, or looking up at the clouds.
Walk to get your heart pumping. The simplest way is to pick up the pace until you’re breathing harder than usual. You may also try alternating between walking and gentle jogging (walking for five minutes then jogging for one minute). Keep track of your progress, and gradually build intensity, but don’t overdo it. Listen to your body and if something hurts or you’re struggling, stop. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how to walk vigorously but in a way that’s right for you. One thing is certain: Walking can be the cornerstone of renewed health and vitality for many people who want to have a healthier lifestyle.
Take pride in your community while you walk or jog and pick up trash along the way. It feels great to do something useful with your time and it’s also a way to add some bending and stretching into your walking routine.
Enjoy a Destination Walk
Enjoy some great walk destinations in Arlington. Here are some favorites for the season:
Long Bridge Park Esplanade:
Enjoy a relaxing view of Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, National Airport, and even the Washington Monument in this ¾-mile flat walk. The path ends at the new Long Bridge Aquatics Center. Peek in the windows at the Olympic-sized pool. Along the esplanade, you’ll find outdoor-accessible public restrooms, a bike fixit stand, benches, a water fountain, and an outdoor exercise parcourse.
Potomac Overlook Regional Park:
Explore this gem’s many walking paths (both paved and unpaved) and the nature center is worth a visit. The park naturalists regularly host public programs like bird-watching walks (note: there is a small fee). Try walking through the park and down to the Potomac Heritage Trail, which can extend your hiking experience without ever leaving Arlington.
Barton Park Labyrinth:
Found near Rocky Run Park, this is a nice spot for a silent, meditative walk. It’s a small feature in a larger park but it’s great that we have one here in Arlington. There’s another labyrinth in D.C. at the Georgetown Waterfront Park.
The Village at Shirlington:
Several of our 8-Week Walking Challenge participants have mentioned walking here and enjoying the shopping experience and seasonal holiday decorations. Certain establishments at the Village also take part in “Sip & Stroll,” which enables you to take your beverage to-go (including alcohol) so you can enjoy it in the neighborhood’s public spaces.
Use these ideas to get out there and explore Arlington this holiday season. Don’t forget those layers so you can go out in almost any weather.
For more ideas of places to walk in Arlington, visit our interactive walking maps. Explore the map of hidden gem walking destinations in Arlington and a map of short walks we created for the 8-Week Walking Challenge.
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