Get yourself a prescription to nature. It'll improve your mental and physical health. That's according to doctors in Scotland who are recommending that people in the Shetland Islands get outside.
The program outlines a recommended outside activity per month. For instance, in January you can create a windsock to grasp the full power of the wind. In March, one can “borrow a dog and take it for a walk.”
We belong in the wild, unmoored from the tyranny of our seats. When we disconnect and move outside, we connect with terra firma and reconnect with ourselves. Take your body and thoughts for a walk.
Erling Kagge is the first person to trek the Three Poles Challenge: the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest. In his bookSilence: In the Age of Noise (Amazon), he dissects the of the art of silence.
“Humans or homo sapiens didn’t invent walking. But walking invented human beings. So, of course, now we go into a time where we walk less and less
“It’s what publishers tell authors: don’t worry that you don’t know the conclusion or exactly what you’re going to write because you may find some new answers and some other questions. I was surprised to see, for instance, how radical it has become to actually choose to walk. To move slowly from one place to another has become a privilege, and many people can’t afford it because they need to get from A to B in a fast pace.”
“Basic, simple, repetitive activities…capable of great sophistication and elaboration. They can be completely banal and meaningless, and yet they can also involve great passions and adventures. Both can lead you into strange and unknown territories: a walk on the wild side.”
If you were the next Forest Gump and wanted to walk Earth in a straight line without hitting the water, here's your guide.
The path starts east in China and ends in Liberia.
Lace up those walking shoes, we've got a project for you. An intrepid cartographer has, with the help of Google Earth, tracked down the longest-possible straight land path on earth – and it starts in China.
Just start walking due west from Shitangzhen, a town south of Taizhou, in Zhejiang Province. Keep on moseying, and in about 589 miles you'll hit Wuhan. You will then, eventually, pass just south of Xi'an and (sooner or later) hit Qinghai. Getting tired yet?
After a brisk hike (i.e. crossing the Himalayas) you'll end up in Tajikistan. From there, it's just a quick poke through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Egypt (right through the heart of Cairo!) Libya, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast and, finally, hit Liberia.
Sitting is the new smoking. While that claim may be a bit exaggerated, it is an effective reminder to remind ourselves to take our body for a walk.
The more than 360 joints inside our bodies are also ample evidence that we are built to stand up and move. And while more offices are including stand up desks and other mobility devices, the sedentary lifestyle still dominates.
Sitting for long periods of time reduces overall blood flow, particularly the oxygen that gets pushed via bloodstream through the lungs to the brain.
So, set yourself a reminder to get up every half hour and move around. But beware of text neck.
Said Henry David Thoreau, “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
Walking boosts creativity.
If you ever get stuck in a creative rut, science shows that you should go for a stroll to get your endorphins moving.
As learning scientist Marily Oppezzo notes in her TED presentation below, walking generates twice the ideas. Even if you walk and then sit, your mind will continue to generate novelty.
But you can’t just walk forever, nor should you run. You should discuss your ideas out loud; the good ones will stick around. If you really want to remember everything discussed, record the thinking session on your phone.
So, how do you walk and brainstorm?
Pick a problem/topic for brainstorm
Walk at a comfortable pace WHILE you are brainstorming
Generate as many ideas a you can
Speak and record your ideas
Cap your time
The chair-based lifestyle is not only killing us, but it’s also stifling good ideas. Go for a walk to freshen up your pattern of thinking.
“With writing as with walking you often find that you’re not heading exactly where you thought you wanted to go. There’ll be missteps and stumbles, journeys into dead ends, the reluctant retracing of your steps. And you have to tell yourself that’s just fine, that it’s a necessary, and not wholly unenjoyable, part of the process. It’s an exploration,” writes Geoff Nicholson in his bookThe Lost Art of Walking.
Writing, like walking, is getting lost but at the same time, trusting that wherever the pen and feet go as you ramble and amble around will be met with strange discoveries.
As Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “Language is like a road; it cannot be perceived all at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read.”
Our inner narrative is alive 24/7. Most of our thoughts are garbage, random and unintelligible. But we can dictate some of it, to write the book in our head we want to hear.
That's why it's so critical to surround ourselves with things that reinforce the way we want to think and live. When author Ryan Holiday got stuck on his last book, he walked the streets of New Orleans to reboot his mind.
New Orleans was really the perfect city to write in. I said at my first book signing that writing a book is really a series of long walks. There’s not a better city to walk in in America. It’s old and beautiful and slow. There’s a history of great writers there—a connectedness to the past that was inspiring. I was having trouble finishing this book I’ve been working on and I actually just went and spent 10 days there to recapture it. Worked like a charm.
In reality, we're never stuck. When it comes to the mind, there is no such thing as talker's block. We are in continuous dialogue with ourselves. But we decide to catch, ignore, emphasize, and act on is what makes all the difference. If we want something, we have to extract meaning from both external and internal worlds.
We become the person we look and listen to. To quote author Charles Bukowski: “Yes, it's the dream that keeps you going then and now.”
The farther you go, the more interesting it gets. Through walking you discover.
“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.” – Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking