…Because life is short and cardio is boring.
We rely on the convenience of rapid transportation so often we forget the pleasure that can be derived in its absence.
In a society where we are increasingly sped up, tightly wound, and bombarded with stimulation, sometimes it’s ideal to just be slow.
In high school, my friends and I would sometimes walk hours to-and-from house parties, to avoid cab fares and the scrutiny of parents.
In university, in the snowy paradise of London, Canada, I would trek daily through knee-deep snow to the bus stop and all throughout the day from class to class, retracting like a turtle into my jacket to shield my skin as I trudged through the frosty winds that gusted mercilessly amongst the campus buildings.
After graduating, I spent a glorious, sunny summer in Toronto, during which I’m proud to say I didn’t once use public transit. Carving my way daily through thousands of buzzing locals and tourists, surrounded by glass and steel monoliths, a transformation took place. I found confidence and inner peace that I hadn’t known before, forging my path in Canada’s urban jungle.
It occurred to me that summer that walking is one of life’s great pleasures.
I know I’m not alone in this belief, but I also know that many people disagree. Objectively, walking can be considered boring; many of us view maneuvering between places as a burden and seek ways to distract ourselves (ie. the millions of people worldwide, this very second, in transit browsing their smartphones).
That being said, I find meditation boring, and I’m not about to dispute the millions of people worldwide who extol its benefits. However, I’m too hyper to sit around doing nothing, so walking is as close to meditation as I come, and that’s not something I take for granted.
Zoning out as you walk and passively absorbing the stimuli from your surroundings helps your thoughts achieve that meditative characteristic of randomness, and when you allow your thoughts to wander, you give yourself the chance to stumble onto something profound. Thinking and observing while you walk can summon memories and trigger inspirations. Walking grants you the time to reflect on your thoughts so that these moments are not fleeting, letting you find closure, clarity, or a course of action – whatever your subconscious is seeking in the moment.
Walking is great for your body, too. It’s no surprise that people who walk frequently are often in amazing shape. Walking is a great fat burning and cardiovascular workout, especially if you are walking quickly in order to get somewhere on time. There’s a focused, energizing quality that accompanies a fast-paced, purposeful walk. While many will scorn the stereotypical urban fast-walker, I believe that this is a great person to be. Filled with purpose and ambition, the urban fast-walker tunes in to their own rhythm of right foot, left foot until they arrive at their destination feeling energized, refreshed and ready to tackle their next task with enthusiasm (albeit maybe a little sweaty).
Finally, walking gives you an intimate feel for your surroundings. Walking in an urban area exposes you to restaurants, businesses, architecture and other nuances that you might not have noticed before (it’s also a wonderful time to indulge in some people-watching, if that’s your thing). Walking in a rural area exposes you to beautiful landscapes and the wonderful intricacies of nature. It’s important to humans to become familiar with our surroundings so that we may feel comfortable and at home. As you immerse yourself in an area over the course of a walk, you form a relationship with that area and your world expands, adding a new piece to the ever growing mosaic of the earth that has passed beneath your feet.
Life is fast, walking is slow. Like immersing yourself in a good book, walking is a gradual, linear activity that regulates your heartbeat and breathing, focusing your thoughts, making you feel collected, complete, capable and alive.
Originally published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com