The Power of Perambulation
In the age of high speed living, it is more important than ever to slow down. At the same time, in the age of computers, cars, and fast food, we need to get our bodies moving. One of the best ways to do this is perambulating or walking. It provides an effective means of getting those barbeque calories off without aggravating the old sports injury. Many people take walking for granted, considering it a primitive means of exercise and poor alternative for a jog or bike ride. The truth is quite the opposite.
In recent studies it has been shown overwhelmingly that walking helps you live longer. In women, walking can lower your risk of heart disease by as much as 40% according to the New England Journal of Medicine. People who have been mostly sedentary, can pick up walking later in life and still have significant reductions in the chance of premature death.
Walking is low-impact. That means it causes very little strain on your body, while providing toning, calorie burning, and cardio. Another great part about walking is that you can have a conversation while you do it. You don’t see many runners discussing what happened on Breaking Bad while they pound the pavement.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”, said Friedrich Nietzsche. Man does not live on bread alone, and neither can you expect to get all your answers from that Magic 8-Ball on your desk. Walking creates time to let your mind wander and unwind. It is in this uncoiling of worried thoughts, fears, disdain, and aspiration, that truth and creativity can come rushing in. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, claimed to have made his structure of the human psyche during his walks through the hills and mountains of Germany.
Walking is an opportunity to experience your community and literally smell the roses. Why drive around on the weekend looking for a garage sale and burning your new lawnmower money, when you can mosey down the road on foot, help the environment, save a few bucks, and feel closer to your neighborhood? Too many people treat their neighborhoods like other doors on a hotel floor. When we slow down and take a walk we get to see just who these people are that live nearby and find out how they keep the cats away from their bird feeders.
If you are the kind of person that likes goals or simply like to measure success, get a pedometer. It will tell you how many steps you have taken and if you know how big your stride is, you can easily find out how far you walked and how many calories you burned. A general rule is a person 180 lbs. burns 100 calories a mile at a standard pace. A 120 lbs. person burns about 65 a mile.
There are lots of sites and programs for those that want a little encouragement. Once you find yourself hitting the outskirts of town before you are sufficiently exerted, there are even marathons for walkers. They range from 8-50 miles or so, but it is really only up to you how far you want to walk. That is what makes walking so wonderful. The distance, direction, pace, and company are entirely up to you.
The next time you think taking that one flight of stairs was good enough for the day, remember that even Freud found time to get out and that there may be more truth to the saying, “move it or lose it”, than we might ever want to admit.