REFLECTION: Earlier this year, I wrote about the value of ‘Getting Out There’ – making time to spend a few minutes or a few hours in nature. My last Pause message in September touched on the struggle between getting ‘things’ done and taking time for a walk. It’s not my intention to turn into a broken record on this subject. However, two events have inspired one more commentary on the impact of walking on well being.
First, a personal experience. We spent the last two weeks exploring New York City and cruising the coast of New England and the Maritimes. For all its cabs and subways, NYC is a walking city. And walk we did. If we’d had a pedometer, I’d give you a reading. But we didn’t, so I can’t.
What I can tell you is that it’s a long way from Uptown Central Park to the Financial District at the south end of Manhattan. Our soles covered most of that territory – some of it repeatedly. (I loved Central Park.) We stayed on the 6th floor of a Midtown Manhattan hotel, and other than using the elevator to haul luggage on arrival and departure, we took the five flights of stairs to and from our room – often several times a day.
As for the cruise, our cabin was mid-level in the ship. That meant it was 4 floors up or 4 floors down to food and entertainment. We bypassed the elevators and walked the stairs. The ship stopped at five port cities from Newport, Rhode Island to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The thing about port cities, is that, of course, you dock at sea level, so all the land sites are uphill from there. More walking! Our knees, calves and hamstrings can fill you in on the details!
Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining about the walking. I loved it. The exercise built stamina, strengthened lungs, and helped keep the extra pounds at bay. And, travelling on foot was a great way to develop a sense of place and connect with the locals.
Second, the research. I was intrigued by a study I stumbled across while catching up on my reading on our return. The article reported the results of ten UK surveys of some 1200 folks who immersed themselves in physical activity in the great outdoors. Turns out the study participants reported very positive outcomes. 92% felt less depressed. 86% were less tense. 81% were less angry. 80% felt less fatigued. 79% were less confused, and 56% felt more vigorous.
Let’s see now. Less depressed, less tense, less angry, less fatigued, less confused, and more vigorous! Who wouldn’t welcome results like that?
ACTION: If you’re not walking now, find a way to start walking soon. It’s got to be one of the simplest and most universally accessible prescriptions for improved health and well-being. And, it’s free, to boot!
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” – Soren Kierkegaard
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: Here’s a related article on a ‘walk in the woods’ experience in Japan.
UPCOMING SEMINAR NOTE: Here’s an upcoming opportunity to dive more deeply into issues of life balance. On Tuesday, November 9th, I will be delivering a Life Balance Leadership seminar here in Saskatoon. This program is offered through the University of Saskatchewan Business & Leadership Programs. We’d love to have you and your colleagues join us for the day. For program and registration details check online.