Can Walking Solve Everything?


“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” ~Wallace Stevens

I’m here to let you in on a very profound, yet very simple, secret:

I think walking may solve most of my problems in life.

It sounds so basic, it’s almost silly.

But it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite form of exercise.

And, apparently the smarties in Silicon Valley have adopted “walking meetings,” where they actually conduct some meetings while on their feet. This is genius for several reasons, not the least of which is, it prevents the dreaded Pitfall #1 of meetings, which is, people drone on and on and epically waste your time not getting to some actionable point. The walking meeting solves that innately, because if you went for a 2-3 hour walking meeting, everyone would fall over and not be able to work anymore for the rest of the day. (Note to the meeting culprits: your 2-3 hour sitting meeting is WORSE.)

Walking is simple. And walking makes all manner of ills feel better for me.

When I’m feeling blah? I go out and walk.

Feeling stuck on my work?

Feeling sad?

Feeling sluggish?

Feeling stressed?

Feeling anxious?

Feeling mopey?

Feeling tired?

All made better by walking.

Now, I love a hike in a beautiful natural setting, but sometimes you just can’t get to that easily. So typically I just walk out my front door. I’ve adopted a couple of routes: I have a quick 20-30 minute loop, or a longer route that’s 50-60 minutes. I like exploring the nooks and crannies of my neighborhood. The barrier to entry is very low. It’s hard to talk myself out of.

Long ago I realized that I should never live anywhere where I can’t walk out my front door and take a pleasant walk on foot. Thank goodness I remembered this while house-hunting.

Walking gets you back in the body when you get stuck in your spin-y brain. It asks you to look up at the sky, invites you to pause and appreciate the plants, helps you breathe in the air more deeply. I put on inspiring podcasts, favorite music, or catch up with my family by phone. Oh, and side benefit — if you walk briskly, it’s a darn good workout.

None of this is revolutionary wellness information, but establishing a habit is the key part. I now typically break from my work in the late afternoon, before I meditate, for my daily constitutional. Or, since sometimes I get deeply, unproductively stuck working on writing code, I find that breaking and resetting with a walk is often extremely good for not only my mental state and wellbeing, but the code too.

The other thing about walking is that it creates this space for creativity to happen. It is one of those activities (like meditating, or being in the shower) where, without trying, ideas bubble up, solutions present themselves, and insights happen. Whether it is the connection with nature, the ambling, contemplative nature of the activity, or the kinesthetic therapy, walking is very good medicine.

Do you have an ambulatory penchant? What’s your favorite place to walk? Or a favorite #seenonmywalk? Share here.