My maternal grandmother died a year ago this month at age 99. I am totally convinced that her longevity was primarily due to her near-daily walks, for as long as I knew her! I’ve been a near-daily walker myself for almost four decades. I aim to convince you in this post that you will not find a better source of writing help than a daily walk!
An amazing article hit my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and I can’t forget it. Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D lays out the benefits that walking provides to our brain. A quick rundown (see her post for sources):
- Walking six hours per week reduces cognitive impairment by 20 percent.
- Aerobic walking increases the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
- Walking just 1.5 miles per day, six days a week, reduces the risk of developing memory problems by 50 percent.
- Exercise “stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
- Exercise is more effective at reducing the effects of aging on the brain than nutritional supplements, vitamins, and cognitive interventions.
- Walking more than two hours a week prevents further deterioration in elderly people with early stage Alzheimer’s.
I don’t know about you, but spending the entire day running around in my own brain with a zillion words tearing through it is exhausting and depleting. Not to mention the strain of squinting at a computer screen for 9/10ths of my waking hours. If I don’t get out for at least 45 minutes in the middle of my writing day, I’m enervated and spent by evening. And I’m creatively stagnant and dry. Most of my best writing inspirations and creative ideas pop in while I’m moving through space in nature.
I’ll share my strategy:
Sometimes I Stomp
If I’m all keyed up with nervous energy or pissed off about something, I’ll walk very fast or exaggerate my stride in some way. Move that energy through the body and into the ground! Flail the arms too! It’s an invigorating release.
Sometimes I Stroll
If you are so wiped out from writing that it’s all you can do to get yourself dressed and out the door, just amble, saunter, wander, drift. Grant yourself permission to simply mosey around at your own pace.
Sometimes I Sing
I always have my iPod shuffle with me, loaded with my personal faves, and on the days that I use it, I sing. Loudly. And badly! You’ll be amazed at how much of a mood lifter/energy shifter this simple act can be.
Sometimes I Silence
If I am so over-stimulated and keyed up that I’m about to come out of my skin, I walk in silence. I try not to ruminate on everything I just left in the house. I try to see the colors, hear the birds, feel the breeze and the sun on my skin. I also try to breathe through my nose and deep into my belly to calm myself.
I can’t promise you a numinous epiphany during every walk, but I can promise you will never regret a walk. (Unless you trip and hurt your hands while spitballing ways to increase your typing speed.)
See there! That concluding paragraph came to me in the final steps of today’s walk!
Writer Bio: Laura W is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.