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Library Notes: Get moving outside

By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library

Whenever the month of March comes around, I start letting myself believe we’ve made it through another winter. I know Rowan County has seen snowfall even as late as April, but about this time of year, the outdoors really starts to beckon. If you’re ready to banish your galoshes to the back of the closet and lace up your sneakers, stop by Rowan Public Library and check out some of these books to inspire you to get moving outdoors.

My family incorporated daily walks into our routine at the beginning of last year. I truly believe it helped us cope with certain aspects of the pandemic. Besides boosting our vitamin D intake (at least on sunny days), it also gave us some dedicated time to appreciate small glimpses of nature and the changing of the seasons.

There were also many other benefits of walking that I was unaware of. I discovered these by reading “In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration.” The author, Shane O’Mara, is a neuroscientist and in the book he goes into great detail about all the benefits we can achieve from walking. For instance, learning and retaining information is easier and problem-solving is more efficient as movement stimulates our brains. According to studies, walking also promotes mental well-being and boosts creativity. If this topic interests you, be sure to read “Exercise is Medicine” by Judy Foreman as well.

If you have a dog in the family, more often than not you have an eager companion for daily walks. Besides the benefits of fresh air and exercise, you might even establish friendships with fellow pet walkers. In a way, that happened to Martha Teichner, a CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent, and she wrote a book called “When Harry Met Minnie: A True Story of Love and Friendship.” Martha’s memoir recounts the special relationship she developed with a “friend of a friend” who was terminally ill and needed someone to adopt her bull terrier, Harry. Through a few serendipitous events, the lives of everyone involved were changed forever. Another inspiring book about dogs, long walks, and introspection is “Walks with Sam,” by David Berner.

Sometimes, a natural progression when walking for exercise is to begin running. While not always physically possible or desirable, running has many benefits including weight loss and improved cardiovascular health. However, it does place more stress on the body than walking. If you decide to take up running, check out the book “The Durable Runner: A Guide to Injury-Free Running,” by Alison Heilig. It has many tips to prevent injury, reduce pain, and increase resiliency. Other titles to consider are “Run to the Finish,” by Amanda Brooks; “Slowing Down to Run Faster,” by Edward Yu; and “Run for Your Life,” by Mark Cucuzzella.

If winter decides to overstay its welcome, or you’re not quite ready to start walking or running outside, stop by the library and check out these books to help bide your time. “The Man Who Walked Backward,” by Ben Montgomery tells the true story of a man from Texas who inspired others by walking backward around the world during the Great Depression.

“Walking to Listen,” by Andrew Forsthoefel is a coming-of-age memoir of a man and his journey across America. Finally, if you haven’t followed along during the many journeys of Rowan County’s own David Freeze, pick up a copy of “One Day at a Time Across North Carolina.” His solo run/walk across the state is full of adventures, interesting folks and beautiful scenery. Whether your steps take you many miles or just around the neighborhood, do yourself a favor and get moving outside.

Paul Birkhead is reference librarian at Rowan Public Library.

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