The power of walking
3rd September 2020
I’ve always been a walker, from a small child striding around my parents garden, as a teenager going on long walks with friends, at university taking on challenges like the West Highland Way (54 miles in 24 hours), to now, living with my family in London & walking miles daily with our dog (double that mileage in lockdown).
I don’t think I realised quite how much I enjoyed walking until quite recently, I rarely see it as a chore, whether 7am in the morning on a bright spring day or on a damp winter’s afternoon when it’s getting dark and I definitely saw it as a saving grace in lockdown.
I find its often the best way to find order and calm — in my head or in my heart.
Many fantastic ideas and inventions have been realised on walks – when you look this sort of thing up on google, many great people came up with some of their best work whilst out walking.
Nikola Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, one of the most important scientific discoveries in modern history, on a walk through a city park in Budapest in 1882. When he lived in Paris, Ernest Hemingway would take long walks along the quais whenever he had “writer’s block” and needed to clarify his thinking. Charles Darwin’s daily schedule included several walks, as did Steve Jobs. Freud was known for his speedy walks around Vienna after his evening meal. The composers Gustav Mahler & Ludwig van Beethoven both spent many hours a day walking, clutching sheet music and writing materials to scribble away melodies when inspiration hit. It’s probably not a coincidence that Jesus himself was a walker and that in other faiths – the Buddhists talk of “walking meditation,” where the movement after a long session of sitting, particularly movement through a beautiful setting, is said to unlock more than traditional meditation does and promotes a different kind of “stillness”.
Walking works for so many, in so many different kinds of careers, because it is a deliberate, repetitive, ritualised motion and an exercise in peace.
During lockdown, I worked in our (small) garden, walking around whilst on phone calls and went on several strolls to the park for calls with candidates and clients, instead of sitting static at my desk. A new craze of “netwalking” had grown in popularity before lockdown, where groups of people who might normally gather together for a sit down meeting in an office/venue, had started to gather at an agreed location to go for a walk and to network as they moved along. I went on a netwalking dog walk in Richmond Park and our team met up for a virtual “ramble” over a few lunchtimes to try something new – all quite enlightening and delightfully different.
Every person who has ever had a breakthrough idea or thought on a walk knows that the two forces are equally and magically responsible. Which is why whoever you are and whatever you do, you should do yourself a favour today and go out for a quick walk and take a deep breath, it’s a great tonic!
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