“A body in motion stays in motion … a body at rest stays at rest” is a quote inspired by Sir Isacc Newton.
Most of us are well aware of the benefits of exercise in general and walking in particular. Long before the invention of the wheel, we walked. Walking is free. You can do it most anywhere … it gets us out of our homes, our offices, our cars, our gyms into the fresh air. It is a viable, healthy mode of transportation. It can be aerobic exercise as you walk quickly or up hills. Walking strengthens muscles and bones, supports weight loss, helps us manage stress and is recommended in order to prevent heart disease. When we walk outside, there is the possibility of increasing our vitamin D levels as well, depending on what time of year and where we are.
The Joy of Walking
We are, after all, creatures with a past. Having not recently arrived on this planet, we did not evolve under the influences of a modern society or a world dominated by technology. Our minds and bodies were shaped by natural forces to perform functions far different than those that presently occupy the vast majority of our time.
When we find disharmony, unhappiness and disquiet in modern living, we do not realize that it springs from our disassociation from the primal past. First and foremost, we were meant to walk. To run – perhaps, to jog – maybe, but to walk – most definitely. Before modern machines, before domestic animals, before the riches they brought – we walked. We walked everywhere while waiting for the wheel.
It was a long wait indeed and we marked it with footprints in the sands of time. Those footprints led across the continents and we came to recognize walking as something inherently human. There it was, imbedded in our psyche, fused in the marrow of our bones. We carried our few portable possessions and depended on each other more and property less. We strengthened our backs and limbs, burned calories, increased our circulation and cleared our minds of everyday cares.
I am an avid and passionate walker and hiker. It is an integral part of my photographic journey. I have walked through fairly diverse terrain in Jerusalem, New York, Costa Rica, Morocco … and last year in Nebraska and Colorado. I captured moments I would not have seen if I’d been confined exclusively to a car, a bus or exercising in a gym. Here is a recent slideshow I created of what I saw in 2011 all while walking.
I have hiked numerous trails with the Sierra Club. My parents led us four children on countless miles of walking during family vacations while growing up. In fact, it is likely my mother, in particular, whom instilled the love of walking within me. So, I encourage parents to take walks/hikes with their children! There is often so much to see and experience when you do! I have been a part of a walking group whereby we walked the 49 mile scenic drive a couple of hours at a time meeting each time at the last place we left off. I have had various walking partners over the years and it is one of my preferred activities to engage in when socializing with friends. A walk and a talk … I’ve also had silent walks whereby the focus is to be present to the sensations we experience as we walk – what we see, what we smell, what we hear. Lately, I’ve been walking barefoot on the sand at Baker’s Beach and Crissy Field in San Francisco, even in my winter coat, as part of an “earthing” practice. I love to walk in the sand. Having grown up in Laguna Beach, I did so regularly and have reclaimed this nourishing practice recently.
I encourage you, if you don’t already, to add walking/hiking to your weekly activities. In my experience, it consistently nourishes my mind, body, spirit and emotions. I’d love to hear about your walking adventures.