My two miracle health and beauty solutions are not exactly secrets. They are readily available to everyone and free! One of them I discovered because of the pandemic, so there are a few good things to come out of this messy 2020. What has my legs looking leaner and my skin looking tighter and clearer? The two Ws — walking and water.

Thank you Covid 19?

When the pandemic crashed into our lives, we all scrambled to find something safe and satisfying to do. We were allowed to go outside so many people and their families started walking. Our neighborhood started humming with dog walks, stroller walks and couple rekindling walks. I made my husband start walking with me. He is not a huge fan but he got out there. When I got tired of my family’s company (and they got tired of my face), I turned to a group of co-workers to walk with. We started meeting once or twice a week at 8AM. It was magic! Social time and surprisingly good muscle development.

I walk on paved trails around lakes, on the gravel trails behind my house through woods and meadows and yesterday I walked on a paved trail through neighborhoods and along marshland. My goal is at least four miles each walk. At that level, I see results.

Usually, the warm Minnesota months allow me to jog on the trails behind my house. This year, my right food decided to complain. Plantar fasciitus seems to have settled in over the winter. Walking does not irritate the fasciitus as much.

person walking trail

Walking is not just for old people

The benefits of walking have really surprised me. It’s not just for old people! I remember reading in Dan Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones, that the people who lived the longest all over the world did a lot of moderate to low impact exercising. One group of sheep herders walked miles every day up a hill/mountain and back. They were a very healthy population.

Walking inspires creativity

My writing hero, Brenda Ueland, walked five miles a day for most of her life. Brenda often walked alone. She walked in New York City and Minneapolis. She lived to be 94. The mix of nature, fresh air, solitude and exercise lends itself to creativity and mental well being. I am seeing that myself now.

Water the elixir

Covid 19 did not directly inspire my new water habit, but it did spark my wanderlust which led me to visit my dad and stepmom in Tennessee. While visiting them, I spent time with my stepmother Jan. Jan recently lost 60 pounds! She decided to get healthier for her milestone birthday last April. One of the first requirements of Jan’s health coach was that she start drinking 100 ounces of water a day. That’s a lot of water! The usual recommendation we hear is eight, eight ounce glasses a day (64 ounces). Jan said she immediately felt better and noticed her skin looked and felt better too when she started drinking all of that water.

Since I had a couple of trips involving flights (which notoriously dehydrate us) and I want my skin to look better, I decided to get on the water wagon too.

water with lemon

Drinking water reduces stress

Another benefit of hydration is a dilution of stress hormones like cortisol. If your body is dehydrated it feels stressed. If you are stressed due to life circumstances, chances are you are not focusing on drinking water and could use more hydration. WebMD says to drink a half an ounce to an ounce per pound of body weight. If you exercise a lot or live in a hot climate, you should drink an amount on the higher end of the range.

How can you fit in drinking more water?

While my husband and I were in Tennessee, we stayed in a beautiful new resort called Wildwood. When we checked in at Wildwood, they gave us each a sleek new water bottle to fill up at their filtered water station. I’ve been using that bottle every day since. I believe it is about 32 ounces so I aim to fill it up and drink from it three times each day.

I make more trips to the bathroom but it is worth it. I feel better and my skin seems improved — fewer pores, clearer.

So those are my great discoveries for this summer. I hope you are finding healthy ways to elevate your lives. Please share them in the comments. I would also love recommendations for walking shoes.

What tips and tricks are enhancing 2020 for you? What simple things do you do for your health that work?