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  • Writer's pictureWill

how good it feels

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

“One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.” Shane O’Mara, In Praise of Walking.

There is a routine to Camino life, it’s simple to learn and as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. You get up, visit the bathroom, get dressed, clear your bed space, and pack your rucksack. Double check your bed space, find your boots, leave.

First stop, breakfast, find a café and order a coffee, croissant or toast with jam, something basic like that. After breakfast, start walking. It’s as simple as that.

Walking, or bipedalism has been around for a few million years. The science is complicated but the concept pretty straight forward. You put one foot in front of another and repeat the movement until you get to your destination.

The rhythm of walking activates the part of the brain which interprets the things we see and stores the signals on our internal GPS software. As these systems boot up, they trigger other systems, and suddenly our mind is running all sorts of background programs. These programs are also used for other cerebral activities involving imagination, creativity, and problem solving.

The Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, pondered a single problem on his daily walks for seven years, eventually inventing a number system called quaternions[1], without which we couldn’t make mobile phones. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche memorably said that “only thoughts reached by walking have value”.

During this coronavirus pandemic (2019 - 21 ish), the “experts” worked out, daily social interaction with open-air exercise, of which walking is the simplest and least expensive, is good for you. It appears, we feel better when walking and talking, who could have imagined that?

When you walk you carry your own body weight? The heart beats a little faster, lungs draw in more air, and blood vessels open up. This reduces the risk of, the lungs draw in more air to fuel the systems. Taking a regular thirty-minute walk helps reduce heart disease, risk of a stroke, reduces hypertension, high-cholesterol, joint and muscle pain, helps reduce body fat and aids balance.

Some research indicates, a daily 30-minute walk, helps rewire the brain for people with communication difficulties like stuttering, or brain injuries. There are book loads of evidence proving a routine walk, especially in nature, improves your mood and helps the healing process for depression and grief.

You walk, the brain fires up and suddenly you remember how good it feels.

It changes you.

[1] Quaternions are an alternate way to describe orientation or rotations in 3D space using an ordered set of four numbers. They have the ability to uniquely describe any three-dimensional rotation about an arbitrary axis and do not suffer from gimbal lock. See, now it’s a lot simpler.

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