It was by foot, not by plane that humans spread over the planet. But as our movement and transport became focused solely on efficiency, walking has slowly lost its popularity. It has become synonymous with fitness. But it’s proven to be more than that.
While walking is one of our greatest exercises, its benefits extend far beyond our cardiovascular health. Sadly, there is no doubt that we have collectively forgotten the joys and benefits of walking.
Most people are turned off by the speed of walking. For example, travelling to Melbourne from Sydney by plane takes just over one hour, ten hours by car and one to two months to walk. Not many people can imagine making an emergency conference or family birth by foot!
If your aim is to meet deadlines and answer calls, then walking may not be your best means of transport. However, most people are beginning to realise that increased efficiency of transport and communication creates greater urgency to complete these tasks as quickly as possible. Speeding from one task to another has removed walking from our lives, and as a result removed one of our greatest medicines.
When we are engaged in bustling city life, we are engaged in reaching goals. Metropolitan success is based on efficiency. The spaces between A and B are mostly ignored or forgotten. This can lead to people falling out of touch with their environments, their relationships and themselves.
Through this high stress goal setting, one might continuously delay warning signs from your body or push back a dream adventure. The space to sit, be silent and contemplate these sensations and thoughts is limited to that one hour on the flight to Melbourne and while on the road in peak hour.
Dealing honestly and sincerely with the things we care about takes more than a side thought. We must make space and time to engage with them.
Rather than an inconvenience in timing, walking re-engages us with our environment and body. This occurs through a variety of mechanisms. The first is through regulating our heart rate and oxygen intake; the second is through our increased spatial awareness and the third through the greater time spent in this state.
Walking is one of the most continually rhythmic forms of exercise. Once you move up to your pace, you usually surprise yourself at the length you can travel on foot. Somewhat like undergoing a trance, walking sets your body at a predictable rhythm. Your brain and body get regular oxygen and your heart rhythm can stabilise.
Our biology works through feedback mechanisms. Whether you’re driving on a busy road, or feeling stressed at the office, your normal physiology is constantly reacting to a jagged heart rate and constant spikes of adrenalin. Unsurprisingly, your mind will follow these erratic states.
When people return from Inspired Adventures’ treks, they often report a life-changing experience. They have had the time to truly explore both the environment and themselves.
When someone moves through an environment in a car, the environment becomes a speeding reel. It desensitises us to the life and feeling of that environment. Everyone has experienced the realisations of a previously undiscovered world when they walk slowly through a new area. On foot, we are able to see more people, cafes, flowers, birds, etc.
Of course, there is more to El Camino, the Great Wall of China or the Larapinta Trail than the photos we see. The collective experience of scents, textures and sounds can best be experienced on foot. There is time for true spatial awareness. You can only truly grasp the massive scale of the Great Wall by walking a portion of it. Similarly, you may experience a true connection to your country by walking the indigenous songlines of the Larapinta.
Size is only realised by exploring it with your own body. Similarly, culture can only be connected with when you have the time to listen. That is why we host treks. People are crying out for this opportunity, even if they don’t realise it.
The more time spent walking, directly determines how in tune you can become with yourself, others and the environment. The physical barrier of modern transportation is removed and you are suddenly vulnerable to the changing weather and temperature.
You are forced to be aware of what it is like to get drenched by rain or with perspiration.
You might discover that you love walking in the rain, snow or autumn leaves. The opportunity to discover increases exponentially when walking.
We always have the choice to walk. Whether it’s to the shops, or up to Kilimanjaro, we will always benefit from choosing to walk. We will benefit from better health, better connections and greater awareness.
There is a reason why great philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Nietszche strictly walked every day. There is a reason why people from all over the world swear by the spiritual and life-changing experiences of El Camino and other pilgrimages. Exploring by foot is a way to engage with your mind, body and environment.
So go on, stop reading and get walking.
You can reconnect with your love of walking on one of our adventures, check out our calendar for 2018.
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