On Walking

walking

“You’ve got brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” –Dr. Seuss

Every person who is worth imitating has at least one of two things in common… they walk and/or and they meditate. There are absolutely some other qualities, which are (and should be) “imitate-able”, but these are two that are relatively simple and quickly adaptable.

At first glance, walking seems like something that is just a waste of time. Of all the forms of physical exercise, it would appear that walking is the one with the least amount of visible health benefits (in comparison to say lifting weights, or biking). You certainly can’t get any “physical” work done while doing it. You can’t check off “gym” or “working out” from your To Do list. It’s just you and your mind during that period of walking. It seems to be for more mere enjoyment that you should do such a thing, and because of that, you shouldn’t do it for too long lest you waste away the day.

But upon closer inspection, some of these claims are a farce. But before we get to that, lets beef up the one attribute that walking seems to have, the one attribute that makes it even worth doing (note we are talking about willingly walking, not walking out of necessity to get from point A to point B). That is, walking for relaxation/enjoyment.

One should always have time in ones day for relaxation and enjoyment, otherwise life would be quite miserable and not worth living. Mother nature demands this of us. Otherwise why would she have made night and day? Day for work, night for rest. So, there is a built in resting mechanism to life: the night time. But does that mean relaxation should only occur at night? This could be debatable… but one thing is for sure… it is scientifically proven that our attention span isn’t that long, and if that’s true, then relaxation/intermittent breaks in our work is a must. The breaks and relaxation time periods are up for debate, but it is certain that we should at least make time for breaks in mental and physical thought, throughout the day. Moreover, look at every person worth looking up to, you’ll find that they all incorporate breaks in their daily habits.

As mentioned there are a stock of techniques to incorporate breaks: there is your workplace daily allowed lunch break for meal time, the Pomodoro Technique, meditation (conscious practice of doing nothing), and last but not least, walking. There are other forms of doing nothing but ones that are arguably quite dangerous (at least for extended periods of time). These include watching useless TV, scanning social media, etc. These sort of things are ok for a time, but not for much time as the longer you do it, the more you run the risk of becoming what you consume.

Just one last remark on the good quality of walking: it seems to me to do no harm the longer you walk, whereas the longer you watch TV, the quicker your brain rots. Why is this so? Relaxation to ones self free’s ones mind. But I could hypothesize all day. One thing is certain, test it: just walk and walk… do you feel that your brain rots each time? Most likely not.

There is some science to back up the above claim… which leads me into the other reasons why walking is good for you, mainly that you activate the energy production mechanism in one of the largest muscles in your body (your legs). Keeping these fellows active is a must for life. Higher activation and use of these muscles leads to a high correlation in mental capabilities, and to a more positive outlook in life in general. These are due to the basics of science, energy production, and oxygen transport in the body (and probably a host of other things that a sports scientist can come up with).

Aside from physically being a healthy activity, it is mentally healthy for the same reasons as meditation (and also for the same reasons as being physically healthy, since the mind and body are one… i.e., if walking is physically healthy for you, you’re damn sure that it is mentally good for you). Like meditation, when you leave your mind at rest, you actively trigger your connection with the world beyond what we see. Doing so gives your brain a chance to recharge. You are left alone with yourself and your surroundings. Additionally, it is this mechanism of walking that facilitates creativity, as no great idea in life ever came when one was busy worrying about how to achieve his/her next task. Most great ideas in science and life come from periods of rest and breaks in attention span and work. As the old saying goes, you can’t have something without nothing. You can’t have anything of value without a void of that value… otherwise how is it of value? It’s value is in what it is, as compared to what it is not.

 

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