Walking anywhere is great for your body. Walking outside is great for your mind, too. If science is sure about anything, it’s that walking and nature are good for you. One recent study showed walking just 15 minutes a day can add years to your life, while a prominent neuroscientist called walking “a superpower.”
Let’s put it like this: our legs as the engine of our thoughts. What comes out of it? Walking makes one a philosopher and long walks in the mountains stimulate thinking.
The philosophy and psychology of walking and how other philosophers find that walking is like an image of thinking. “For example, Descartes describes his reflection as a walk in the woods. He feels lost, he looks for a way out … Heidegger speaks of thoughts as “paths that lead nowhere”: the goal is not to go from one place to another, but to make the journey. Kant, for example, went for a walk in Königsberg every day at 5 pm, following the same path every time. In other words, his walk was as planned in advance as his orderly and constructed philosophy. Nietzsche also had his own walking habits, only he used to walk on a mountain trail. Where man can put his exceptional nature to the test by dreaming of reaching the highest peaks,” reveals French philosophers.
A very particular philosophical conception states that thinking would be favored by the fact that the body would be absent. The latter no longer interfere, so thinking would be more present. Other philosophies state, on the contrary, that thought always associates body and mind and that in the process, it is the body that thinks. Montaigne even said that “his mind was not good if his legs had not shaken him” and that he could feel his thoughts sleeping if he sat down.
Some philosophers believe that simple walking is rich in thoughts if it is free and with no purpose other than to spend time with yourself. On the other hand, walking in the city can be hectic, while, although it can sometimes be fast, your thinking can follow a slow tempo.
Walking forces us to consider a mixed body and mind reality. It is an opportunity to give thought a concrete foundation, which we are tempted to put aside when we engage in abstract reflections. When walking in the mountains, earth reminds us of where we come from and where we are going: “You are dust and you will become dust again.”
“It is no coincidence that “humility” comes from the latin humus, which means “earth”. And that it allows us to experience our limits: by practicing walking, we feel fatigue, old age, we “feel” that our body is not all-powerful, while traveling by car, in train or plane are all opportunities to go beyond our physical limits. Walking also teaches us that it is not in the nature of things to go straight to the point,” believe some philosophers.
Walking alone can also serve as a means of self-penance, as it was for Rousseau. The experience of nature is said to have been, for him, experiencing the truth, since nature does not cheat aesthetics either. As for the function of penance, it came after Rousseau tried all his life to communicate with people, to establish transparent relations with them, which proved to be perhaps one of his greatest failures: he failed to live among the people as he wished, so he was condemned to “leave.”
Leaving aside the philosophical nature of walking, all studies show that, walking regularly will improve your self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed to recover.
In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
So whether you’re looking for the next, best version of yourself, or just hoping to preserve the well functioning self you have now, you might want to consider going for a long walk this weekend. Your brain will thank you.