All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking. -Friedrich Neitzsche
Being the kind of gal who liked to run marathons for fun, I used to think that walkers were slackers or people who clearly had too much time on their hands.
Unlike my strolling counterparts, I usually hit the pavement with the mindset of racking up as many miles as I could in as little time as possible. Walking is kinda inefficient by those standards.
And yet, if I’m 100% honest about it, I was jealous of my walker pals. They seemed so much more relaxed and, dare I say it, happier.
(Possibly because they weren’t pounding their joints into oblivion while listening to rage-y house music like I was.)
Walking kind of gets a bad rap. People—read “I”—get all judgy because it’s relatively simple and straightforward. No fancy CrossFit stuff. No complicated dance moves. No intense weights.
Just. Plain. Movement.
I have to admit that I covet the simple pleasure of walking around Baker Park or up a random mountain trail. There’s just something about it that’s joyful.
Walking seems to solve pretty much every problem.
1. It strengthens memory and boosts creativity.
There are all kinds of studies that cite walking as a key factor in increasing the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. I know that I’m an idea factory while walking. I feel like I can solve the problems of the world during my little strolls around town. Laugh if you want; I’m not the only one. Steve Jobs was fairly famous for his walks around Palo Alto. In fact, he regularly went on long walks to problem solve and was well-known for his walking meetings.
Want to get your brain unstuck? Instead of waiting behind your desk for inspiration to strike, take a few minutes and go for a walk!
2. It staves off dips in energy.
Want to combat those crazy times in your day when you feel sluggish? Go for a power-walk! I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you time your walks correctly, you’ll gain energy instead of slipping into a mid-day coma. A brief walk (say 10-15 minutes) after a meal will definitely change the trajectory of your energy level for the better. Even walking out of the office around the block has the power to change your momentum!
3. It keeps you in shape.
Walking between 8,000 and 10,000 steps a day is one of the keys of fitness. We all know this, right? (It’s totally doable by the way.) Get yourself a Fitbit (or another measuring device), increase your incidental walking, and boom! You’re done.
Personally, I love the concept of incidental walking. Basically that’s the walking we do every day to get us from Point A to Point B. By taking the stairs and parking farther away, we give ourselves a few more steps towards our goal.
4. It increases your happiness.
So this is the big one: WALKING MAKES YOU HAPPIER.
And it’s freakin’ easy to do, so you pretty much have no excuse for your grumpiness. Seriously. There’s an entire research study done by Duke University that proved that going for a brisk 30-minute walk three times a week can be as effective as taking antidepressants to improve your mood.
So as you see, walking is a kind of wonder drug. Only you don’t need a prescription. And it’s free.
My challenge to you? Commit to going for two walks on your own each day, over the next two weeks. See how it makes you feel. Are you a kinder, gentler version of you?