As a child, our first steps are our biggest triumph. They open up a whole world of possibilities, allowing us to explore the world on our own terms. Over time, we take the ability to walk upright for granted and we overlook how it can keep us mentally and physically healthy.
Greek philosopher Hippocrates believed that “walking is man’s best medicine”. Research confirms his claims stating that regular walking not only reduces the risk of chronic diseases but also increases the supply of blood to the brain. With each footstep, a “pressure wave” sends blood through the arteries, further enhancing brain performance.
Free, accessible and effective, walking is an underutilized tool to help us cope with society’s rapid modernization and resulting stress. You too can experience the following key benefits if you choose to take those first steps once again.
Awaken your senses to be more present.
When you last walked, did you observe your surroundings? Or was your head down until you reached your office door? The world has so much to offer, whether it be the smell of the freshly cut grass, the warmth of a high-noon sun, or even the hum of public transportation weaving down city streets. When you actively take in the colors, shapes, textures, smells and noises around you as you walk, you feel more grounded, refreshed and awake. Often, the average work week can be monotonous. Turn your commute into a meditative experience by opening your eyes, ears and nose and taking it all in.
Step into a new idea.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Leaders such as Steve Jobs and Aristotle have embraced walking to boost creativity and productivity. Walking meetings or walking desks make it easier to reflect on past plans, find fresh perspectives and execute new strategies. So, next time you are feeling short on ideas, take a break and go for a stroll. The act of walking, rather than the environment, is most important. Whether you are walking down a coastal pathway or in midtown NYC, a 15-minute walk could make all the difference in determining the success of your next proposal or campaign.
Build bridges, not walls.
When emotions run high, it is too easy to brood in isolation. Often upset, we focus on the negative and create walls that inherently stop us from resolving any conflict and letting go of animosity. Luckily, walking helps us to find the clarity needed to deal with difficult conversations and situations. Rather than sit in a room to argue with your partner, choose to walk together in a completely new environment. It is often easier to communicate your emotions in a neutral place.
Find your own trail: Whether you are in nature or in the city, it is critical to find a route that helps you embrace walking. Alternatively, your trail may be no trail at all. Get lost if that suits you more, the choice is yours.
Do it daily: Even if it is for only 10 minutes, get out and walk daily. Turn your morning commute into an active walk, where you observe your surroundings with intention. You will no doubt start your day off on the right foot.
Aim to unplug: Put that phone away and look up. Your posture will not only thank you but so will your mind.
Originally published at summitpowdermountain.com