In some ways, taking a walk for the sake of walking is somewhat of a lost art.
Of course, individuals who live and work in more urban areas tend to walk more, but, generally, in the United States, most people do not tend to get enough exercise. And walking, as it turns out, is a good way to boost your mood, burn calories, and feel better.
In his 2020 book, “In Praise of Paths,” author Torbjorn Ekelund explores his love for walking and paths.
“I walked to all places I needed to go, and this is how the paths came back into my life,” Ekelund writes. “Space once again became the primary factor of travel.”
Ekelund goes on to discuss how walking changes our “sense of distance,” which, arguably, it does. Moreover, throughout the book, the author uses walking is a metaphor for life.
“[I] came to realize that walking over long distance and spans of time is the surest way to find oneself,” he says. “You repeat the same activity day after day. Walk, walk, walk. You feel the blood pulse in your veins, course throughout your body; you become attuned to your body’s own rhythms. You become one with yourself and everything around you.”
Philosophy aside, walking – as most people have heard by now – is good for one’s heath. Additionally, walking in nature or forested area can bring additional benefits. In Japan, walkers practice something called shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” According to author Melanie Choukas-Bradley, forest bathing is defined as “fully sensory immersion in the beauty and wonder of nature.” This can be done by simply taking a walk in nature, or it can be a more involved process.
Taking a walk in nature can lower your blood pressure, pulse rate, and cortisol levels. It also can increase heart rate variability and improves mood. So, if you’re looking for a fitness routine for the new year, you may want to consider the simplicity and joy of taking a simple walk.
Choukas-Bradley, M. (2018). The joy of forest bathing. Rock Point. New York, NY.
Ekelund, T. (2020). In praise of paths. Greystone Books. London, UK.