“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
The ‘Real Feel’ is 38 degrees. The sun is nowhere to be seen, and the wind seems to be whipping in to lower that real feel to freezing. Brr. Still, there is nothing like fresh air. Bundled up, we can get out almost any day, except for when it’s raining — that changes everything. If you want to eat less, drink less, worry less, feel less sad, feel less angry, feel happier, and feel more positive, put on your hat, gloves, scarf, and coat, lace up your shoes, and get outside. If you have a building where you can walk inside, choose that when it’s not walking weather outside. The point is we need to walk when we are able. And Nietzsche’s words are exactly right — worthwhile ideas are gained while we’re walking.
If I have a problem and I’m trying to come up with a solution, I go for a walk. I don’t know why it helps, but I am convinced it makes a difference. Fresh air seems to equal fresh thinking. Is it my imagination? No, it isn’t. If you aren’t taking time to take a walk, you are missing out on a free, no-calorie way to benefit your body and your mind.
While I’d like to really push fresh air as the piece that makes such a difference, it seems that for creativity it’s simply about getting up from the chair and moving. Studies (Stanford) have shown that whether participants walked inside on a treadmill or outside, their creativity was positively impacted. Did you have a great Thanksgiving dinner? Chances are with all of the sitting you might have done on Thursday, your body is ready to get up and move. Not only does walking (30 minutes a day is great) improve creativity — important for painters, musicians, writers, and other creative types — but it also helps us to be better workers. Try having a meeting while you are walking and talking with coworkers. Studies have proven that fewer distractions and the movement that gets the blood flowing make for a great combination to for more meaningful relationships and productivity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, walking helps a person to:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Improve your mood.
- Improve your balance and coordination.
If we are going to walk, we might as well do it correctly. According to the experts at Prevention, “start by rolling your shoulders, relaxing them away from the ears, keep your chin and chest up and abdominals tight. Walk with a natural stride, rolling from heel to toe, with arms bent and swinging at your sides.”
Walking might not seem to be a very meaningful idea for a column, but what walking has done for me is incredibly meaningful. When I was a young girl, I’d take off into the woods behind our house and walk up the hill on the other side and stand in this wide-open field imagining answers to all of my problems. Living on my own as a young woman, I would take to the streets of my East Nashville neighborhood and walk away my worries. Today, I walk almost daily in hopes of keeping my bones strong and my mind clear. I sometimes send text messages to myself as ideas pop into my head because I’ve learned that they will pop right out of my head just as quickly.
Do a little research, and you’ll see that Apple’s Steve Jobs, author Charles Dickens, and composer Ludwig van Beethoven all used the simple act of walking to think more clearly and creatively. If it worked for them, it can work for you and for me. An invention or a work of art just might be waiting for you to take a walk!