Today is National Walking Day, and Guest Speaker Susan Sommers knows a thing or two about walking. She is an award-winning health and fitness expert and author with an inspirational story. Since turning 59, she has completed two seven-and-a-half-hour marathons and 35 walk races. In June 2020, she registered for the Camino de Santiago Trail and walked all 778 kilometers of it virtually.
Her new book, The Magic of Walking: A Guide to a Balanced, Purposeful Life, combines a memoir of her lifelong passion for walking with evidence-based strategies and tools for walking for physical, mental, and spiritual health.
In her fifties, Susan got a job at the YMCA business center, which came with a free membership. The first class she took was running, but she realized running wasn't for her. So, she decided to walk instead.
"When I was 59, I signed up for my first race, my 5K walk race. I didn't know anyone who did races. It was just a shot in the dark. It was outdoors in Toronto, by the waterfront. I literally went into the race, walked for an hour, went home, had a glass of wine, and fell asleep. And three weeks later, I got a pair of socks and a gift certificate telling me that I had come in first for my age group."
That summer, she signed up for two more 5K races and eventually went even farther. At 65, she did her first full seven-and-a-half-hour walk marathon and went on to do a second.
When she wrote her latest book, she realized that walking was something she'd done her whole life for physical activity, mental health, and spirituality.
"It really is a culmination of my whole walking journey. And I wouldn't have put it together if it hadn't been for the pandemic and my doing El Camino virtually. And then saying, 'What role has walking played in my entire life.'"
She especially enjoys walking in nature or "forest bathing."
"During COVID, I realized that I was more visual than I thought, that I actually noticed things. I would go into green spaces and take photos. So I've made that my passion now - to stop and go slowly and look around."
What does she hope people will take away from her talk?
"I think that they will understand walking better - that it's so achievable, so approachable, so inexpensive."
Join Susan and hear her inspiring story Wednesday, April 6, and learn her tips for making walking a part of your everyday life.
And learn more about her story on her website, powersourceforwomen.com.
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