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December 13, 2013. Honest, old fashion awe. In the presence of honest-to-goodness, awesome nature. Vast, beautiful expanses of it. Mountains, deserts, oceans and forests of it. Places that make you feel deeply grateful to be alive on this planet. Places you can only get to on foot.

So here are some gifts to encourage and enable someone you love to experience awe. Gifts that range from smaller and cheaper to bigger and kinda expensive. Gifts that get you ready to walk right into the middle – or out on the edge of – awesome places.

That first places may be miles from the trail head, so getting in shape to walk five or ten or twenty miles takes some … walking. So let’s start with cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength. You’ll improve both with lots of regular, frequent walking or jogging. I get mine indoors: weatherproof, no excuses. Here are two very different indoor tools: a little step deck and a couple of not-so-little treadmills.

Start small and cheap with a $20 Step Deck for running in place. Your place. If your place has enough space and you can spring for $800, here’s a NordicTrack treadmill with a cushioned deck and shock absorbers. It tilts up to a 12% incline to get you ready for those long uphill trails. If you want to get in shape for seriously steep terrain, this Incline Trainer treadmill cranks up to a 40% incline and down to a 6% decline. When this starts to feel easy, you’re ready for Half Dome or Mt. Timpanogos.

Whether you train indoors or outdoors, you need the right shoes for the comfort and ease that come with natural balance and stability. My two feet have had it Better than I could I have imagined since I switched to Altra Lone Peak trail shoes last year. The smartest design you’ll find: they’re truly foot-shaped and they have zero heel elevation. So you walk – or run – in the most natural, comfortable and stable Way. That gives you complete confidence and ease on all trail surfaces. And gets you out and back to the trail head with feet and legs that feel no pain. For $115. I wrote a very complete description of these shoes here.

Getting Ready to Rock
For inspiration and enabling, one year and 365 Ways of Better Cheaper Slower with a $10 Gift Subscription is hard to beat. Because before you start a walking or running program, you should be flexible and strong in all the right places. Use these stretching exercises and these strengthening exercises. And find available awesomeness every Friday with an Adventure Hike or a Walk That Ate …

Every Thing Is Everything
This study published in the The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that adults in their 50s and 60s who walked 40 minutes three times a week actually increased the size of their brains’ hippocampus. That’s the area where memories are formed. And they performed better in spatial memory tests. Which means you’re less likely to get lost when you’re out walking. And more likely to remember your awesome walks.

The whole Better Cheaper Slower Gift Guide

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Walking is the best possible exercise. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk. But divert your attention by [appreciating] the objects surrounding you. Habituate yourself to walk very far.
– Thomas Jefferson

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

Every Thing Is Everything
This study shows that “use of flat, flexible footwear results in significant reductions in knee loading in subjects with OA [osteoarthritis]. By 24 weeks, there is evidence of a gait adaptation with sustained load reduction even when the mobility shoes are removed, suggesting that footwear may serve as a biomechanical training device to achieve beneficial alterations in gait mechanics for knee OA.” Reduction in “knee loading” reduced pain and slowed the progression of the disease. Might want to wear these shoes even when you’re not hiking. The study was reported in the journal, “Arthritis and Rheumatism”.

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