Walking evokes the most fundamental characteristics of humanity.
Ever since our ancestors crawled out of the primordial biosphere, although our big-brained species invented language, art, modern medicine, prosperity gospel, motivational speakers, and reality-television shows, at the end of the day, we’re still bipedal.
Today, it seems that walking has become an inconvenience. Especially if you just paid Tony Robbins $650 for a good talking-to and discovered that, with the right mindset, you can walk on hot coals. Ironically, you can do the same thing with the mindset from downing a $6.50 six-pack of Budweiser. The same laws of physics apply: if the coals are too hot and you move too slowly, you get burned. But with Tony’s plan, you will get that time-honored experience of unleashing the power within your bank account to flow into his pocket.
But I’m not your guru—let me digress.
Boots on the Ground
When we want to travel from point A to point B, we can employ a plane, train, or an automobile—or walk. Walking is definitely the slowest mode of travel in this case: 3 miles per hour for walking versus 550 mph, 100 mph, and 70 mph, respectively. I get it: it’s traveling. But what about just walking for the sake of walking; not getting to point B, C or anywhere for that matter?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines The Benefits of Physical Activity. Additionally, the American Heart Association say that a new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division indicates that walking is just as good as running when it comes to good heart health.
They observe that “regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” and this includes walking. Some of the benefits are noted in the following chart.
As you can see, between 2005 and 2010, Americans walked more, which is good for one’s health. But I like bullet point number six: improve your mental health and mood.
Taking it to the Street
This is a big one for me. As someone who routinely exercises, the best part of walking for me is the slowdown—the break from the daily grind; that alone time to let the mind wander into a dream-like state while the feet are moving at a steady pace.
I never took the time to just walk. I was always in a hurry to get somewhere fast and get something done and hurry towards the next project. Even when I was walking. Now I realize this isn’t living: it’s just a rush to the end, where we all end up on the same non-existential plane. A memory.
But now I think of walking differently. French philosopher Frédéric Gros wrote a book about the psychological benefits of walking entitled “The Philosophy of Walking,” where thinkers like Nietzsche, Rousseau, Rimbaud, Thoreau, and others found inspiration in walking.
Try it sometime. Not just for your health, but for your peace of mind.
For example, if you have something on your mind or something’s bothering you and you’re thinking about posting something about it on Facebook or social media, try taking a long walk first. Let your mind wander, and try not to think too much. Put one foot in front of the other, and listen to your breathing. I find that amazing things happen after I get in the zone: clarity of thought, new ideas, songs, poems—all kinds of cool stuff. Many times that line I need for a song comes to me, or a new thought about an issue will pop in my head. Sometimes I just feel better about myself.
But I Work All the Time!
I know that it’s hard to squeeze exercise into a busy schedule. If you don’t have time to take a long walk, check out this piece over at Health Ambition entitled 7 Common Activities With Surprising Health Benefits.
Chief editor Helen Sanders at Health Ambition believes in “empowering people with knowledge to make smarter, healthier choices in their lives.” Head over there and check it out.
All About Bidness.
Business folks can get in on the action too. Nilofer Merchant suggests that if you have a meeting, take a walk. It changed her life. Watch the short video below.
In the long run, I think walking grounds us. It’s an ambulatory adventure along a tiny path upon this pale blue dot.
Slow down, tell someone you love them, tell someone you miss them. We’re only here for a little while. We’re all a part of Earth’s big adventure, even if it’s running across life’s hot coals.
Leave a reply, and tell me what you think.