I took advantage of the weather today (it’s warm and sunny in January!!) to take a longer walk than I normally would.
Unfortunately, this amazing weather won’t last. The temperatures will drop to below freezing tonight. Regardless, I’ll continue to do a daily walk, since I love walking.
Why? Walking is one of the keys to personal resilience.
I strongly believe that walking is by far the best exercise you can do. Not only are the benefits amazing for your mind and body, it’s one of the few exercises you can do for your entire life.
In fact, it’s so good, it’s a mystery to me why a daily walking habit isn’t the bedrock of health education in public school.
NOTE: A simple walk of two miles a day would do wonders for kids. Not only would they would burn 40,000 more calories a year, returning them to weights we haven’t seen since 1960 in the US, they’d also: do better in school (daily exercise before class improves academic performance), be happier (walking improves mood), be healthier (blood pressure, sugars, etc.), etc. For those that continue the habit, these benefits would carry into later life. It’s amazing how many of these benefits are cognitive.
When did I start to walk regularly?
I was lucky. A daily walk was a habit I picked up in childhood. First by walking to elementary school daily and later by doing a 45 minute paper delivery route (back when kids delivered the news). Since then, I fit it in whenever I can (particularly since it provides me an opportunity to do some deep thinking w/o interruptions).
Unfortunately, for many of us, walking isn’t part of our life. It’s not a habit we are learning.
The communities that most of us live in aren’t designed to make walking or biking easy (here’s some help on seeing what’s possible).
They’ve been designed for driving. They’ve been designed for a lifestyle that’s making us weak, fat and sick. They’ve been designed for a lifestyle of dependence.
As we start to rebuild our communities for resilience, let’s make sure that walking is incorporated into every design decision. Also, if you haven’t already, incorporate walking into your daily routine (at a minimum, take the stairs instead of the escalator).
PS: One of the big reasons you might want to start to walk is that it will keep your brain young and alert as you age. A couple of years back, Esquire magazine named me as one of the its “best and brightest.” For the award, they flew me to New York for a two day event. While there, I had a chance to talk to a scientist getting an award for his work on extending human life spans. During a discussion we had, I found out that although medicine was extending lifespans at a fairly good clip, we haven’t made any progress extending the clarity of the mind. In short, on average, the human mind fails in our late seventies. So, our bodies will live longer but we won’t be mentally present to get any benefit. Important lesson here? Do everything you can to keep your brain young… like walking daily.
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