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If you want to get outside this season, walking is one of the easiest ways to do so.  And it doesn’t have to be as boring as it may sound!  Walking is an opportunity to spend time with friends or quietly reflect.  It can introduce you to new places in your own hometown or help you discover nature.   Here are a few things you can do while walking:

Socialize with Friends

Sometimes it feels like we are connected to all our friends all day through our phones and social media.  However, it can also feel good to connect with people one-to-one or face-to-face.  If you just want to hang out with some of your friends, going on a walking excursion is a simple way to dedicate time to talk.  If it’s been so long you feel nervous about connecting face-to-face you can check out a book of talking tips and conversation starters such as Conversation Starters by Kim Chamberlain.

Quietly Reflect

Even if you are walking in a group, you don’t have to talk.  You can simply some time being unplugged and out in nature.  You may find yourself suddenly being inspired about that homework problem you hadn’t been able to solve or you might start reflecting on big questions like “Who am I?” and “What do I want to do with my life?” or even “Should I go to college?”  Check out Mindful Thoughts for Walkers by Adam Ford for inspiration on meditating on some of life’s important questions.  Then check out A Still Quiet Place for Teens by Amy Saltzman to continue working on mindfulness strategies to manage the stress that can come from school, home life, and personal relationships.

Identify Trees and Plants

Even if you live in the city, you can find nature all around you–in the trees, in the flowers, in the city parks.  How to Read Nature by Tristan Gooley offers insights into why you should be more attentive to the natural world all around you.  If you are convinced, you may be interested in learning more specifics about what you see.  You can start out with a simpler book like Treecology by Monica Russo and Kevin Byron to learn how to pay attention to leaves and bark and to learn about trees commonly found in urban areas.  Or you can use a guide such as Plants and Flowers by Alan E. Bessette and William K. Chapman to  identify the plants you see on your rambles.  Or check out the Field Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes of the United States by Edward Knobel.

Bird Watch

As you spend more time outside, you will become more aware of the animals all around you–even if city spaces.  Spend time listening to the birds or simply standing still and watching their behavior.  To learn more about birds, you can check out a book like Birdology by Monica Russo, which lists activities you can try to build your observational skills.  Or learn how to start your own birding journal with The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound by Sallie Wolf.

Identify Wildlife on the Seashore

If you can get to the beach, you can add some interest to your walk by observing the plants and animals around you.  You may even begin to collect shells.  To get started, check out the Atlantic Seashore Field Guide by J. Duane Sept or A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore by Kenneth L. Gosner.

Discover Historical and Cultural Sites of Interest

While walking around town, you may become more aware of the places you pass by every day.  You may notice historical plaques on buildings or interpretive signs on the street.  You may start to observe that some city sections look different than others–they may have bricked sidewalks instead of paved, or the street lamps may look old-fashioned.  Even the street signs might be unique.  These small differences could all be indicative that you are passing by or through a site of historical or cultural significance.  Walking gives you the chance to slow down, to look at the architecture, and to read the signs.  You may learn more about a place you thought you were very familiar with!

Because walking is such an efficient way to get close to unique and interesting spots, many people publish walking guides to specific cities.  You may be interested in checking out one, such as Walking Baltimore by Evan Balkan or Walking Washington D. C. by Barbara J. Saffir the next time you visit a new place.

Think about the Future

If you enjoy spending time in nature or if you care about preserving the nature you see around you, you may want to consider a career in which you work with plants or animals or in which you work to protect them.  Below are some books you can check out to learn more about potential career paths for people who love the outdoors:

Conclusion

Walking is an easy, low-cost way to get outside and get moving.  It can give you time to connect more with the people you care about, reflect on the important things going on in your life, and observe the natural world all around you.  So get out your athletic shoes and start walking!