The Lost Art of Walking
Have you forgotten the calm of the night?
When was the last time you took a walk? No I am not talking of a quick dash to the tailor or when you are rushing to pick up your children. I am talking a lovely, breezy stroll doing…well nothing.
As the sun finally relents in Lahore and the evenings get breezy, I returned to my love of walking yesterday evening. And it was every bit as glorious as I remember it. An evening walk has a rather sentimental history.
On my numerous visits to Pakistan, one of my most precious memory was the stroll after dinner. It was a time for uninterrupted bonding with like-minded family members. The day was coming to a close and the last major chore, that of dinner, had been completed. The moonlight was shining bright and I was quietly reassured that my heavy dinner was being walked off rather than settle on my hips!
That was not just a teenage notion – not only is it a Sunnat [following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)] to walk after one’s evening meal but science also vouches for the habit.
Even a fifteen minute walk after a meal can help in digestion, improve metabolism and help regulate blood sugar levels. One gets the same benefits from green tea except that isn’t as fun! A bit of exercise also promotes better sleep leaving you refreshed in the morning. Its actually amazing how this little habit can do so much.
A study and concluded that depressed women who averaged 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, felt better emotionally, socialized more and felt more in control of their depressive symptoms than those who did not.
Walking also has many cognitive benefits as it has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of depression due to the release of endorphins after exercise. Kristiann Heech led a study and concluded that depressed women who averaged 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, felt better emotionally, socialized more and felt more in control of their depressive symptoms than those who did not.
With depression afflicting one in ten adults as reported by the Centres for Disease and Control, USA one needs to be in control of one’s mental health and it starts as soon as you set out the door. Whereas it would be simplistic to assert that this is the only remedy one would need there is no doubt that walking has many benefits for mental health.
Some of the greatest thinkers in western history have been walkers such as Virginia Woolf and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Why? Maybe due to the unrivalled sense of calm that one feels in the great outdoors even if it is one’s garden.
There is a mystique in nature; the greenery, the views and just the sense of calm. When the mind is calm it thinks better thus often the best brainwaves and solutions come to you during a walk.
It is different from taking exercise when you are preoccupied with how much weight you are losing and how you must balance it with food to see results; this walking is only concerned with relaxation and observation.
It is no wonder that we truly observe during these walks – the colour of the autumn leaves, the glimmer of snow or the coolness of a rainy night.
We see the true beauty of the trees, the patterns and the splendour with which they are made.
Nature has unparalleled magnificence as it has been carved with the hand of the Almighty and we humans only see that in a quiet moment.
In today’s fast world, we have forever seated infront of technology. We are sedentary infront of TV screens, laptops, computers and smart phones. We are losing connection with each other and our surroundings. Going right back to basics, right back to the first element of human behaviour, makes us reconnect.
We no longer feel the need to bond with nature – we do not pick our own fruit or grow our own vegetables. We don’t hunt or understand the leaves and plants around us. And we are no richer, healthier or happier for it.
Walking gives us a chance to reconnect with our most basic core habits and in turn our own soul. Take your kids with you and chat with them to alleviate the loneliness our technological lifestyle has gifted us.
Walking is an activity that gives us something – its better for our health and mind and it opens our eyes to the beauty of the world as it was created.
So, what are you waiting for? No gadgets required. No stress. No special shoes or change of clothes. Just get up and open the door to the great outdoors. They are called ‘great’ for a very good reason!
For more great benefits of walking be sure to read this piece at the prevention.com: