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BFTP: Walk. Just walk.

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
                                                          Friedrich Nietzsche

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.
                                                  Kevin Kelly

Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.
                                                                        Steven Wright

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.

 Original post January 1, 2012

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Reader Comments (9)

Good morning Doug.
I completely agree with your assertion that walking is good for our mind, body, and spirit. Here's my recent post explaining my newfound appreciation for wearable tech and how it can reinforce good habits;
I identify educational and professional benefits of walking, as well.
Keep on walkin'!

February 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Schuetz

Fantastic post, Bob! I tweeted it out and hope lots of folks read it - and follow your example.


February 27, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug I loved this post. As you know I had surgery last year and beforehand I thought I better get in shape to prepare for the surgery. Made it my goal to walk at least 10 thousand steps a day and I've done that and more. I usually walk between 6-8 miles per day. There are very few days I don't get in at least 6 miles and have almost never not gotten to at least 10 thousand steps. I started walking again the day after surgery (and thanks to fitbit I can see my progress!). Think it only took me about a week to get back up to ten thousand and then I just kept on going!
I too like to walk by myself although my husband now joins me on the weekends. I like to walk through town and never listen to anything as I'm going along. People used to stop and offer me rides but now everyone in town knows I'm walking because I want to! I only didn't go out once because of an ice storm and for a few days afterwards I did walk home from school but during the day I stayed inside and walked long hallways and up and down stairs. Got those steps in but was happy once I could get back outside. I have gotten soaking wet a few times but dried out eventually lol! I dress for the cold so that doesn't bother me either.
Keep on walking!

February 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Gottsleben

Hi Deb,

It's good to know that we as humans can have good habits as well as bad ones! Keep up the walking too!


February 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Listen to this first interview from the NY Times podcast of 3 March. It is exactly what you are talking about in your paean to the virtue of nature.

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFloyd Pentlin

Thanks, Floyd! Downloaded and ready for listening when I head to Mexico next week.

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. I think of you each time I see the turn off for Lee's Summit on the way to visit may grandkids.


March 5, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I walk to and from work in all weather and have 1,2, and 4 mile routes. The Wright quote is my favorite! I do listen to music; it's the only time I'm able to. Hopefully, you'll inspire more people to walk!

March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Yingling


Good to know I have some fellow walkers among my readers!

Thanks for the note,


March 7, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson


Good to know I have some fellow walkers among my readers!

Thanks for the note,


March 7, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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