Do You Know The Hidden Benefit of Walking?

It took cracking my iPhone screen three times to change my mind. 

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For years I resisted putting my phone in a case. I love the way it looks. I love the way it feels. I love the way it’s designed! I didn’t want to cover all that with a stupid plastic case. But, three cracked screens changed my mind. Now my phone is in a stupid leather case.

But, not my iPad.

Every time I use it, I run my fingers over the beveled edges. I love how slim it is and the way it feels. And, as I do so, I wonder how much of my enjoyment is the result of many walks.

Steve Jobs not only cared about the way his product’s worked, he was obsessed about how they looked and felt. I enjoy the result of that obsession every time I use my iPad. I used to enjoy it with my iPhone, but that ended because I couldn’t stop dropping it. 

Steve Jobs solved creative problems while walking. The founder of Apple was legendary for walking barefoot around his neighborhood or the company campus. He brainstormed while he walked.

There’s no documented evidence that the ideas for many of the Apple products we use today came from these walks, but we do know that Steve and his chief designer, Jonny Ive, were often seen walking together. 

And, here’s the thing. There is research indicating walking boosts creative thinking by a whopping 60 percent compared to sitting. The research was done at Stanford University. You can read more about the details HERE if you are interested. 

But, even without research, we can surely point to Steve Jobs as evidence of a link between walking and creativity.

So, is increased creativity the hidden benefit of walking? No, it’s not. It’s been on full display for many years. Steve Jobs didn’t discover this. History is filled with brilliant creative minds who walked a lot including Aristotle, Charles Dickens, and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Let’s first run through a quick list of the not so hidden benefits of walking.

HEART HEALTH

This is a huge benefit of exercise. And, if you’re walking at even a moderate pace for about 30 minutes a day, you’re meeting the CDC activity recommendations. Walking will help you significantly lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. You also lower your risk of diabetes. This benefit alone should be motivation enough to get walking. But, wait…there’s more. So much more!

STRESS RELIEF

Research keeps proving that regular exercise lowers your stress. And, again, walking at a moderate pace counts. But, even if your walking is slower than moderate there’s still a stress reduction benefit. And, best of all…this benefit is almost instant. If you’re feeling stress take a walk and you will likely feel better. As your stress lowers your mood improves. Great benefit here!

STRONGER MUSCLES AND BONES

This is probably an obvious benefit. But, even an obvious benefit still counts. Our bones and muscles need movement to stay strong. The more you walk the stronger you get!

BETTER THINKING

This is a corollary benefit to the creativity boost. Even if you aren’t needing a burst of creativity, exercise helps boost your brain function. We think better if we’re moving regularly. Have you ever noticed how lethargic you can get when you’re not moving? It’s like our brains get lazy too. If I have a problem to solve I take a walk. It works every time!

WEIGHT CONTROL

Again, this one is obvious. We burn calories when we move. That said, experts keep telling us the biggest factor in weight loss is what we eat. In other words, it’s difficult to just walk weight away without changing your nutrition too. But, walking still burns calories and certainly helps maintain a healthy weight. You can burn even more calories by walking longer and faster.

HIDDEN BENEFIT

In 2020, Ava and I made a big life change. As I’ve written, we moved from Maryland to South Carolina. We changed just about every aspect of our life with this move. It was a huge decision and it required a lot of work. It also required a lot of negotiation between Ava and me.

We had been talking about this change for years. We had to figure out when we were going to move and where. These were wide open choices. We had to figure out my job situation. Gratefully, my employer was willing to allow me to work remotely out of state. And, that decision was made before the pandemic forced employers to do this!

Those big decisions were followed by an endless stream of smaller decisions that each felt big as we talked through the implications. Over the past five years I can’t even begin to calculate how many hours we spent talking and planning for this move. 

The fruition of all these conversations was finally felt in December when our house in Maryland closed and we both drove down to our new life the day after Christmas. Our new life hit a major speed bump on December 27, but Ava continues to recover and rehab and we are slowly enjoying the benefits of our new life.

The most amazing part of the past five years with all of these decisions is how our relationship was impacted. We weren’t always on the same page. Sometimes we weren’t even in the same book. But, we talked through each and every issue until we ended up in the same sentence. 

Our relationship got stronger through all of this!

And, most of these conversations happened while we were walking. There were even times when we’d be sitting in the kitchen and talking about an issue and decide to take a walk. We knew that was the best way to work through a problem, especially if we weren’t on the same page.

And, this is the hidden benefit of walking. New research indicates that walking meetings help the participants feel closer together. In other words, solving a problem with another person while you’re walking helps you find a solution AND brings you closer together.

In fact, the research shows this is so powerful that it even brings strangers close together if they are walking when they meet the first time. Imagine, how much closer you feel if you already have a good relationship before your “walking meeting.”

One of the hardest parts of the weeks following Ava’s accident is that we couldn’t walk together. Actually, I walked and pushed Ava in the wheelchair. It was still our best relationship time, but it still felt different. Finally, nine weeks after the accident we  walked outside together. It was slow and we didn’t go far, but it signaled brighter days ahead.

There are different ways to apply this hidden benefit. Like Steve Jobs, you can build work relationships by holding walking meetings. If you’re married take regular walks together and watch what happens. Walking with your children one on one could be a game changer, both for today and for the future. And, friendships can only get sweeter if you walk together.

TRANSFORM YOUR WALKING 

The beauty of walking is multi-tasking at it’s finest. As you’re building relationships, you can also use your walking for fitness. If you’re ready to up your walking game, why not try a 30 Day Walking Challenge.

The Challenge has three levels from beginner to expert. Download your free 30 Day Walking Challenge guide today and transform your walking from functional to life changing!

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.

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(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

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