All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
- Walking is man's best medicine.
And they discovered something very interesting: when it comes to walking, most of the ant's thinking and decision-making is not in its brain at all. It's distributed. It's in its legs.
Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.
I've been either walking or jogging for 45-60 minutes at least four to five times a week for 35 years. It's no great sacrifice - just a long cherished habit - one of the few that I have that are actually healthy. When once asked for "secrets of success," my number one secret was to "take a walk."
Walking seems to have come into its own lately. For example: 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?
These are some ways I make the most of my walking time. YMMV.
1. Walk during the day. I have the opportunity to walk at lunch time. I've often wondered if my time might be better spent socializing with teachers in the district in a lunchroom, but I've decided that my time spent alone with my own thoughts is as or more beneficial. A mid-day break clears the mind and loosens up problems somehow.
2. Walk alone. On occasion I walk with others and enjoy the experience, but 99% of the time I walk by myself, at my own pace and where I want to go. It's hard to think when you are either talking or listening to somebody else. My sense is that the world would greatly improved were everyone to spend 30 minutes a day simply reflecting.
3. Walk outdoors, preferably in a natural setting. Treadmills don't do it for me. Avoiding traffic and exhaust fumes isn't much fun either. Look for a park or nature area to take your walk. (I wear a blaze orange vest when walking through a city nature area that allows bow hunting of deer during the fall.)
4. Walk in every weather. A warm coat, hat (with earflaps) and gloves are all you need here in Minnesota to walk all winter long. Oh, I add ice grips to my shoes in the winter too. A rain jacket in the office works the rest of the year.
5. Walk, don't stroll. I don't speed walk. I don't walk with weights. I don't stop every five minutes to do jumping jacks. My regular walk looks odd enough as it is. But I do walk purposely fast enough to get the heart rate and breathing going a little faster. Throw in a few hills if you have them. Walk like you mean it.
6. Walk without a sound track. I can't concentrate when listening to music and I can't focus at all if there is a narrative playing. It's nice to hear the birds, the wind, and the horns of vehicles bearing down you anyway. And just how do people keep those damn ear buds in?
7. Walk a variety of routes. I have four circuits, each of about three to four miles mapped out from my office. (If you are used to walking a circuit in a certain direction, try reversing course sometime - it's a whole new world.) If I have a meeting I can walk to and back from, I do.
8. Walk on the weekends and walk on vacation. Make your days off work as pleasurable as possible by walking. Weekends are a good time to head to a park to walk - or snowshoe, cross-country ski or bicycle for a little variety. Books of walking tours are available for most cities and walking (or hiking) vactions are the best. You'll never want to see a country from the windows of a tour bus again once you've seen it while walking or biking.
9. Walk for your mental health as much as your physical health. No matter how busy, no matter how uninspired, no matter how lousy the weather*, I always am glad when I get back that I walked. My problems are often solved, new ideas hatched, and my mood improved. Or maybe I should say, walk for your family's and co-workers' sakes.
10. Walk how you want to walk. Ignore any of this advice. Just walk.
Note: Since posting this 5 years ago, I have started using MapMyWalk to track how far and how long I walk. I find it motivational. I have also joined MeetUp walking group excursions a few times a month. I find going with groups like this make it more likeky that I will walk faster and farther than I would normally.