“Walking is a man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates
Do you walk regularly just for sheer enjoyment? Do you carve out some thinking time from your schedule? What was the last time you’ve had a great walk?
Most of us would consider walking as a time-waster. We barely see walking as a life-changing core habit, let alone as a vigorous exercise.
You certainly have the gut feeling that walking promotes your health in many ways. But here is the point: we, by part of our very human nature, don’t do something just because it’s rewarding in terms of our health. That’s why we crave for another reward an action can bring…
Here it is: thinking time.
It’s much more than mere thinking time. It’s a time window when you’re very likely to think out-of-the-box. This is a perfect time that you unplug and get the big picture.
Here’s a little story about how I changed my perspective on walking.
Once I had to pick up some bread in a bakery that allowed me―honestly, rather forced me at that time―to walk homewards for some 20 minutes. I’ve had a big problem in my head for months (!) and couldn’t find the answer. Five minutes before hitting home, a new idea just popped into my head that solved my entire problem the next day. It was such a liberating experience that it completely changed my approach to walking.
Walking is no more an “empty” activity for me, neither is it a pursuit for dummies. It’s not for sunny days only. I like walking: that’s kind of a meditation exercise.
Before we move further, I want to shed light on a crazy commitment.
A strange commitment
At the very beginning of last year, I made a commitment. But this time, it was different than typical New Year’s Resolutions: I created a list of my goals for the calendar year.
One of my goals was to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator in the office each and every day. I made a commitment that I refuse to take the elevator, no matter what.
First, it was a bit strange; I needed to change my route when heading to the office to get to the stairs. Some colleagues would follow me. Some not. Some would consider me a stranger.
But I honored my commitment and followed through my plan…
Some 60 days later, I found myself on autopilot, never taking the elevator. I felt comfortable with my choice. Colleagues learned that I would leave them in front of the elevators.
Today, I still ignore the elevators, what’s more, colleagues started to accompany me with my “journey.” Maybe because I’m their boss, who knows. 🙂
You don’t need to live by the seashore to get the benefit of regular walking. You can walk practically everywhere; it’s really up to you. Maybe experiment with different scenarios―park your car in a remote location, get off the bus before your final destination, get a 10-minute walk during the working hours, or climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
Begin with baby steps to gain momentum, and then slowly build up your habit.
Before we move on to discuss how to establish your regular walking habit, let me introduce my all-time favorite leisure activity…
I’ve been practicing TWCT for more than a decade now. First, it wasn’t a conscious or planned activity. I just liked to ride my bike and take long breaks of reflection. Do you know what has changed ever since?
Nothing, except that it’s a conscious and planned activity now!
It’s the single most important me-time in my schedule.
It’s a game-changer.
It always provides me with fresh thoughts and directions about life and my goals. This piece of content and my blog would have remained sheer fantasy without my TWCT practice.
A word of advice: be prepared to have fishermen looking at you with penetrating eyes when you practice TWCT on the riverside.
Why not team up with some friends and give TWCTAT (Thinking-While-Cycling-Time-All-Together) a try? It’s fun.
Let’s see how you can make TWWT or TWCT a habit.
You may have heard about SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Set a SMART goal like this: “Walk for 20 minutes 5 days a week.” This goal is specific and measurable because we determined both the duration and the frequency; it’s actionable because it starts with the action verb “walk.” It’s time-bound as well.
Now, as you’ve clearly articulated your goal, it’s time to take action. I suggest that you schedule your walking sessions just to ensure that you won’t break the commitment.
Remember: what gets scheduled gets done! Grab your calendar and schedule regular walking for each workday.
Although I suggest that you choose a calm place for your TWWT, it doesn’t have to be a rural area. You could walk in a nearby park to chill out. Just find a place where you won’t bump into people and have enough physical place to concentrate on your thoughts.
For whatever reason, make walking a daily habit, enjoy it, and keep walking!
Your one takeaway: next time on the way home, get off the bus to have a 10-minute walk and notice your thoughts.