Walking Matters

TreeI happened to hear an interesting interview entitled Why Walking Matters on WBUR’s Here & Now program last week. Host, Jeremy Hobson interviewed psychiatrist and author, John J. Ratey, They discussed a recent Stanford University study finding that walking enhances creativity. Read or listen to the complete interview here.

Last December, I wrote a post entitled Walking, Fast and Slow. In it, I referenced an article I had read espousing that walking at a brisk pace is better for us than walking slowly. In other words, intensity matters.

One of my earlier posts on walking was a recount of my own lifelong walking habits instilled in me by my father. By focusing on my stride and the surroundings, I use walking as a way to solve problems and fuel creativity.

In the Here & Now interview, Hobson points out that Dr. Ratey is a fan of walking with no purpose. In fact, they conducted their interview while walking aimlessly outdoors. Ratey says that walking aimlessly, rather than walking with a clear goal, is extremely beneficial for our brains. Our thoughts will be more creative and we’ll hold onto those thoughts much longer.

So, my new goal is to intersperse my own goal-oriented walking rituals with aimless walking episodes at least twice a week. That’s not too much to ask of myself, especially at this time of year.

I jumped right to it yesterday. Instead of my usual route along city sidewalks, I took an aimless and inspiring walk in a heavily wooded park. Rather than focusing on my stride, or on “getting there,” I just enjoyed being outside in the lovely, natural surroundings. The rest of the day, I was clear-headed and content.

Where is your favorite place for aimless walking?

by Rebecca Cochran