To some, walking is a luxury. To others it’s a chore. We lean on the convenience of rapid transportation so often that we forget the pleasure that can be derived from its absence.
But in a society where we are increasingly sped up, tightly wound, and bombarded with stimulation, sometimes it’s ideal to just be slow.
This is why today I urge you to walk more. It will make you healthier. It will make you happier.
1) Walking gives you time to think:
We are always thinking, you might say – we don’t need to walk in order to think. It’s not so much that walking provides you with extra time to think, but that it offers an environment conducive to fresh, useful thoughts. Our days are largely filled with applied actions that require a very direct, cause-and-effect type of thinking. We are typically required to be concentrating intensely enough on what we are doing that our thoughts will not wander too far. Moreso, we view maneuvering between places as a burden and seek ways to distract ourselves – ie. the millions of people worldwide, this very second, sitting on public transit browsing their smartphones.
Unless you are hopelessly lost, walking is such an automatic action that it doesn’t require intense concentration. Objectively, walking can be considered boring – a view that many people share. However, I think it is far more valuable to view walking as simple and treat this simplicity as a virtue. When combined with stimuli from your surroundings, this simplicity will help your thoughts achieve a characteristic of randomness. This randomness provides a break in the day’s routine and allows you to think productively instead of automatically. Allow your thoughts to wander and you just might stumble onto something profound.
Allow your thoughts to wander and you just might stumble onto something profound.
2) Walking makes you fit:
Have you ever noticed a postal delivery person’s calves… ridiculous right!? It’s no surprise that people who walk frequently are usually in amazing shape. Walking is a great fat burning and cardiovascular workout, especially if you are walking quickly in order to get somewhere on time. There’s a certain meditative quality that accompanies a fast-paced, purposeful walk. While many will scorn the stereotypical urban fast walker, I believe that this is a great person to be. Filled with purpose and ambition, this person zones out to their own thoughts of “right foot, left foot” until they arrive at their destination feeling energized, refreshed and ready to tackle their next task with enthusiasm (albeit probably a little sweaty).
3) Walking allows you to get in touch with your surroundings:
Looking for new places to eat, relax, go on dates, hang out with friends? You’d be surprised how much escapes your vision on a daily basis. Walking just a few blocks in an urban area will expose you to a variety of restaurants and businesses that you might not have been aware of before. Walking in a rural area will expose you to new beautiful landscapes and aspects of nature. It is important to humans to become familiar with our surroundings so that we may feel comfortable and at home. Walking through the area in which you live will make you feel more connected to your neighbourhood and more familiar with the attractions it has to offer.
4) Walking can help you find inspiration:
A combination of #1 and #3. Walking helps you to see new things and think new thoughts. What better way to become inspired? The human memory is a complex entity that eludes and excites us daily. Thinking and observing while you walk can help trigger past memories and motivations, helping you to create or regain inspirations that will dictate your future actions. Even better, walking will allow you to reflect on your inspirations so that these moments are not fleeting. Once an idea pops into your head you can consciously reflect on it and either form a plan of action or achieve a sense of closure, depending on the nature of the thought.
5) Walking will calm you down:
Life is fast, walking is slow. Like immersing yourself in a good book, walking is a gradual, linear activity that regulates your heartbeat and breathing, focusing your thoughts. Humans are highly capable multitaskers and we have become accustomed to doing many things at once, but multitasking too often has the effect of fragmenting our thoughts and turning our intentions into loose ends. We build stress as we fail to pursue our thought processes and actions to completion. We progressively feel incompetent at coping with our responsibilities. Like playing an instrument, reading, baking, or whatever hobby you enjoy, walking is an opportunity to engage completely in a task from start to finish.
A good walk will make you feel collected and complete, capable and alive.