I Went for a Walk Every Day for a Week
I realized that walking is a true superpower
One of mankind's oldest questions, “How are we here?” was answered during a walk. Charles darwin was known for taking two 45-minute walks on his so-called thinking path per day. On those walks, he began to theorize the evolution.
To find inspiration, Beethoven often took long walks after his workday. Equipped with a pencil and notepad to write down his inspirations while walking through the Viennese woods.
When Steve Jobs had an important meeting, he preferred to do it by walking.
The list goes on, but I think the point is clear.
There is a certain energy in walking, which allows us to break free from the day and find inspiration.
I tested it myself. For one week I was walking every day for about one hour. Regardless of the weather or my mood and without my smartphone and music — just with myself.
Here is what I learned and experienced during the week. I can say it is quite a lot.
The antidote for the afternoon slump
For me, the time around the afternoon is often accompanied by a feeling of demotivation and exhaustion. In this episode of the day, I tend to easily waste time and procrastinate.
I am not the only one who is constantly battling against afternoon slumps. This is a common phenomenon.
Your mental performance increases and decreases throughout the day. This is caused by your circadian rhythm — A cycle that controls brain activity, hormone production, and other biological activities. Including also your sleepiness.
I figured out that walks are a perfect thing to do against afternoon slumps. Using the afternoon slump time for a walk, instead of procrastinating, will definitely get you out of it — and will refresh and reorder your mind.
Break from the busy life
Modern times throws all types of challenges at us. Especially in times of Covid where many people work from home, it is hard to find a break from work, personal projects, or even other people and news.
We spent the majority of the day in the same room, from which we are connected to the whole world. It is hard to find a break in these conditions, to just be with yourself for a moment and relax.
Walking can provide you time to relax and to listen to your inner voice.
Appreciation of nature
This may sound weird at first, but what I experienced for myself is how beautiful nature can be.
It is easy to lose touch with nature while living in a large city, surrounded by buildings and cars.
Just a simple walk through a park, seeing trees, and watching birds can bring you joy and appreciation.
There is a successful Japanese healing practice called Shinrin Yoku (Forest bathing). In which participants actively spend time in a forest. The intention behind this is improved mental and physical health.
You don't have to do forest bathing, a simple walk through nature will also do.
People like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are often seen holding meetings on foot.
When I think about a project or a problem, it gets a lot easier to find an answer or idea while walking.
The science behind this is clear.
Experiments have shown that during or after exercises(like walking), we perform better on tests of memory and attention. When walking, the heart rate increases and thus, providing more oxygen for the brain to use.
An experiment made by Standford University shows that people who are walking produce twice as many creative responses compared to ones who are sitting down.
Time to think
The place from where you are reading this article right now might be comfortable and familiar to you.
But it is also full of distractions. Nobody is holding you back when you want to procrastinate on YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram.
I admit it, when faced with a complicated problem, I see myself fleeing from it into social media more often than I would like to. Wasting time watching meaningless videos and procrastinate.
This is the perfect time to go for a walk.
When you walk without any media device and music, you have no other choice but to face your current problems — whatever they may be.
The good thing is with the additional thinking power you get from walking, finding solutions to your problems is easier.
And even if you didn't find a solution during the walk, you will come back home looking at the problem from a different perspective.
This is the most obvious one. Besides better mental health, your body will thank you also.
Walking triggers the release of endorphins, which are responsible for reducing stress hormones. The release of endorphins can also improve your self-esteem. Which I definitely experienced myself during the week.
Regular walks also boost the immune function, found out by Harvard researchers. People who walked at least five days a week for 5 minutes, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less.
Walking can improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure and strengthen your heart, and thus will keep your heart healthier.
And that's just some of the benefits. Plus you lose the bad points about not moving all day.
Especially in stressful times where we need to reach deadlines and your brain is cluttered, walking is not wasted time and can help you in your work.
It is proven that just simple walking will improve your physical and mental health. There is no good argument against going for a walk.
Why not just go for it?