After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value – GM Trevelyan
One of the key characteristics of resilient people is that they look after themselves physically: they eat well, take enough exercise and get sufficient sleep. It is acknowledged that physical well-being has a beneficial effect on mental health generally, so putting your walking boots on has to be a good thing.
Walking is actually my favourite form of exercise. For one thing, it is cheap and uncomplicated by the need for equipment – so, there are no excuses. More importantly, however, it induces a physical rhythm that relaxes my mind, freeing it from circular, unproductive thought processes that set in when I sit with a problem for too long. When the body gets bogged down, so does the mind.
The good news is that you don’t even need walking boots: just as long as long as you are physically able, you can incorporate walking into your everyday life merely by making a point of travelling from A to B on foot.. Better still, if you can manipulate your diary to allow it, go for a lovely day’s walk by a river, in the hills or beside the coast. Walking in communication with nature gives us another known boost to our resilience – in Japan, they call it shinrin-yoku, forest-bathing.
Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking. describes walking as ‘an active presence of body and mind’ an ‘ideal state in which the mind, the body and the world are aligned’.
Writer and filmmaker, Iain Sinclair, believes that “as well as hoovering up information,” walking is “a way of actually shifting a state of consciousness, and you get into things you didn’t know about, or you begin to find out about, and that’s the interesting part.”
During a recent visit to America, I noticed that most towns were designed for cars not pedestrians and there are, consequently, very few people making their way on foot. There is, however, a growing awareness of the positive power of walking and the first National Walking Summit was held this September where the presenters and delegates shared their experiences of the advantages of walking. They found people who walked increased their:
- connectiveness with others
- and protected their environment
American, Henry David Thoreau, was ahead of the game when he wrote his timeless treatise on Walking and spiritual sauntering in 1861.
So are you achieving 10,000 steps (recommended to make impact) each day?
And if you need a bit of lift today try out listening and viewing Katrina & The Waves - Walking On Sunshine (though please note the ironic weather).