By Erica Salzmann-Talbi
Taking my wonderful black Labrador, Sargy, for walks started out as a real chore. I have to admit that when he was young I preferred hooking him to the fifty-foot line that I had running to a tree in my back yard, and letting him walk himself. But I knew that this wasn’t fair to him and as my kids got older and needed less supervision, I couldn’t pretend I didn’t have time to take him out on his leash for a real walk. So every few days he and I would walk the neighborhood, anywhere from a half-mile to a mile-and-a-half so that he could sniff some new smells and check out new places. Over time those walks became an important and often cherished part of my day; both my body and mind became addicted.
When I began walking Sargy I was a little over 40 and had been living on my street for several years, yet I hardly knew any of my neighbors. One of the first benefits of getting out on foot was the opportunity to meet other people. I was a fair weather walker at that point so there was always someone out working on their lawn or garden. As the days grew colder and no one else was outside, I took advantage of being alone and often mulled over issues relating to my sons or made mental “to do” lists. Sometimes I would take a CD Walkman with me so I could listen to music, but it was so sensitive to being jostled, and Sargy so energetic, that the tunes always cut out and I stopped using it.
For my 50th birthday I was given an Ipod which was a far superior audio device and my walks grew longer and more frequent. By the time Sargy died a few years later, walking had become such a routine that I had no desire to stop.
These days I carry an iphone and I can listen to NPR or podcasts as well as music or books or I can call family and friends to catch up. Sometimes I listen to a walking meditation or sometimes I don’t listen to anything at all–it all depends on my state of mind when I head out the door.
At some point I began setting annual mileage goals. I think initially my goal was 400 miles per year. I walk 2 miles everyday and this year managed over 800 miles and hiked all kinds of different terrain and trails.
Having a set time for my daily walk doesn’t agree with me. Since I work from home, I walk when it makes the most sense given the day’s work flow and the weather conditions. Usually I prefer the middle of the day because it helps me take a break from the stress or issues I’m wrestling with in regard to my clients. When the weather, or my schedule make walking impossible, I either make up the missing miles on another day or use the treadmill at the gym where I go for my yoga class.
I recognize that I’m very fortunate to work from home and to live in a safe neighborhood. This means I can choose to take my walks in the morning, at noon, late afternoon, or even in the evening depending on the time of year, the weather and my schedule. No matter where I am, I find a way to get out and walk, and I especially love hiking in the woods or mountains. On particularly gorgeous weekends, or when I’m on vacation visiting with friends or family, I often get to hike four, five or even more miles at a stretch in some truly beautiful places!
Walking means getting daily exposure to both natural light and vitamin D, which benefit both my mental and physical health, particularly in the winter months. According to Dr. Andrew Weill and others, the walking action itself is good for our bodies and good for our brains too. Last but not least, aging tends to bring added weight. Walking everyday, together with healthy eating habits, helps to keep those extra pounds off!
Try it! Start small, just a half-mile to a mile a few times a week. If you’re walking in your neighborhood, notice the details you miss when driving. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. If you like to network, start to do so in an informal way. If you’re in a park or on a trail, notice the trees and flowers, birds and animals. If you’re with a friend, enjoy the chance to catch up, or if you’re alone, maybe you’ll be able to focus on, and resolve a problem you’ve been wrestling with. Pay attention to the fact that you’ll probably sleep better after having exerted yourself and taken in some fresh air!
Maybe walking will grow on you just like it grew on me if you keep it up long enough and make it a habit.
Boomer 100 Contributor: Erica Salzmann-Talbi
Erica Salzmann-Talbi, MBA, CFP holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French and a Master’s in Business Administration, both from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She earned her Certified Financial Planner designation in 1994, holds numerous securities and insurance licenses, and has taken H&R Block Tax Preparation courses.
Erica works with individuals in the area of personal financial planning, retirement planning, insurance and estate planning, tax planning including preparing tax returns, asset management including socially responsible portfolios, and prepares software-based analyses to determine if retirement income resources will be sufficient to meet expected retirement expenses.
Erica served on the Board of Directors of the FPA Chapter of the Hudson Valley from 1994 until 2002, including a two-year term as president from July 1999 to June 2001. She also served on the Board of Directors of Hudson Valley Financial Professionals from 2003 to 2008.
Erica has lived in Poughkeepsie for 31 years where she raised her two sons, now ages 31 and 33. She has been an avid supporter of and member of the Advisory Committee of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center’s Girls’ Leadership Worldwide program for the past fifteen years, and has served on the board of the Ulster Dutchess County Chapter of Girls, Inc. for the past three years.