Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Walking

For a little over a week now I've been walking to and from work every day. I started walking because of a flat tire on my bike, which I still haven't gotten around to patching, and I've kept walking because I'm really enjoying it. I've always liked walking; it's my favorite way of getting around. I like having the time to think, and to take in my surroundings. Sometimes I wonder if the human mind is better suited to walking speed, and if we diminish its capacities when we exceed a walking pace. In a car, the world blurs by and we take in only a fraction of what surrounds us. Walk the same block you normally drive, and you'll notice a million things you'd never notice while sitting behind a wheel. Many of those things will seem big and obvious--that house is painted purple; they've got a tombstone in their front yard, etc. Even the speed of a bicycle cuts down on what you can see. And because walking is such a basic ability--we learn to walk far before we learn to ride a bicycle or drive a car--it demands less attention from the mind, leaving you free to observe more and think more.

Another good thing about walking is that it's great exercise. I honestly think that our sedentary lifestyles cause tremendous harm to our bodies, and walking is a way to limit that damage. Sixty years ago most of the human race depended on hours and hours of physical activity as a regular part of its life, and our bodies need that activity to maintain proper functioning. By removing that activity, by reducing the physical effort used in getting around and acquiring food and all that, we've removed an essential component to the maintenance of good health. Eating a salad for dinner and going on a half hour run three times a week is not going to do it; we need to be more active more of the time. Walking is a great way to reclaim some of our lost physical activity.

People think they're wasting time by walking, or that walking takes too long, but the truth is walking generates time. The more you walk, the healthier you'll be and the longer you'll live.

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