Why walking is the ideal pandemic activity
This revolution in movement is good for you—and the world.
"The benefits of a strollOur mind is at its most creative at three miles per hour, the speed of a moderately paced stroll. In one study, Stanford University psychologists Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz divided participants into two groups: walkers and sitters. They then administered a test designed to measure “divergent thinking,” an important component of creativity. They found that creative thinking was “consistently and significantly” higher for the walkers than the sitters. It didn’t take a lot of walking to boost creativity, either—anywhere from 5 to 16 minutes.
When we walk, posited the late psychologist Colin Martindale, we enter a state of “defocused attention.” Someone in this state is not scattered, at least not as we normally think of the word. They are both focused and unfocused at the same time. We see more when we walk, as author Edward Abbey notes in his memoir Desert Solitaire: “You can’t see anything from a car; you have got to get out of the god-damned contraption and wa
People who walk regularly are healthier and live longer than those who don’t, several studies have found. And you needn’t walk very fast or far to enjoy this benefit. One recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, put the 10,000-step myth to rest. It is an arbitrary number. People—older adults in particular—accrue health benefits by taking only a few thousand steps each day, and at a leisurely pace."