What Walking Has to Do with Your Personal ProductivityAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Stoics recommended walking as a form of mental training to connect with the unconscious. Buddhists recommend walking for a higher, happier and healthier life. Many of the most brilliant minds throughout history found the ideas for which they are known in their walks.
Philosophers like Nietzsche and Freud, composers like Mahler and Beethoven, inventors like Tesla and Einstein, writers like Hemingway and Darwin, activists like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, and visionaries like Steve Jobs all included walks in their daily routines.
Going for a walk is not just a well-deserved break from work or a simple way to exercise. Walking is an exercise that you do unconsciously and ritualistically, which unblocks a part of your mind that you don’t use when you’re doing other things.
According to several scientific studies, regular walking promotes new connections between brain cells, reduces the aging of brain tissue and increases the volume of the hippocampus (a region of the brain crucial for memory). All this implies improvements in cognition and attention.
Another study conducted by Stanford University showed that walking increases creativity, not only during the walk but for additional time after the walk is over.
Other studies add that the place where you walk can be an important factor in the benefits you get from walking. Specifically, walking in green spaces (gardens, parks, forests) can rejuvenate the mental resources that man-made environments drain.
The key to a good walk is to be present, to be aware of the experience. Turn off your phone and be unreachable for a while. Focus first on your walk and your breathing until you feel the pressure of your problems disappear. Go slowly, it’s not about burning calories. On a good walk you are not chasing anything, you simply relax, enjoy the beauty of the landscape and let your mind wander as it pleases.
Of course, in addition to clearing your mind, when you walk you also exercise, you move your legs and activate your heart. It improves blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart problems and many other diseases. As they said in ancient Rome: “Mens sana in corpore sano” — good health always helps your psychological well-being.
To be productive and have a rewarding life, you should not only look at personal management methods, work strategies and tools that will make your life easier. There are other personal habits that we don’t pay much attention to, but are just as important.
In general, any habit that favors your health will be a factor that increases your productivity. Exercising helps your productivity, sleeping well improves your productivity, taking breaks is crucial for your well-being and productivity. And if you use those breaks to take walks in nature, even better.