Solvitur ambulando — “it is solved by walking.” begins a post by Arianna Huffington in last week’s Huff Post.
We’re connected 24/7, Huffington continues, making it hard to tap into our “creativity, our wisdom, our capacity for wonder, our well-being and our ability to connect with what we really value.” Walking is a way to get there.
Thomas Jefferson used walking to clear his mind. Nietzsche used walking to think. Ernest Hemingway used it to mull over a problem.
Psychologists use walking to help with depression. A walk in the park, communing with nature, reduces depression even more than simple exercise. And walking, as opposed to sitting, will improve our health. (See Huffington’s article for more details.)
Huffington cites a 2010 study that showed that walking at one’s own pace for 40 minutes three times a week “can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat declines in brain function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.”
Another study found that people improved their performance on a memory exercise when walking rather than sitting.
“I suspect the greatest mental benefits of walking are explained not by what it is, but by what it isn’t,” writes Oliver Burkeman. “When you go outside, you cease what you’re doing, and stopping trying to achieve something is often key to achieving it.”
I have found that walking helps me step out of the grind and gives me a larger perspective. Sometimes if I’m trying to write or think through a problem, sitting at my desk and staring at the computer screen becomes counterproductive.
Getting away from it, even just to walk around the block, seems to make the wheels spin and click into place in a different way. And it eases the tight muscles in my shoulders too.
Don’t just sit there, take a walk.