I like to walk everywhere I can. It's easy to do, it's easy on the budget, and it's a great way to stay in tune with your surroundings and get immersed in wherever you are.
Recently I found myself pondering why I see so many people scrambling to catch an uber or a cab or a bus that they ride for one stop and then get off. Or bother riding a bicycle 5 minutes and taking the time to lock it.
Because we can walk, people! So I've put together my top 5 reasons why I choose to walk, and why you probably should, too.
“Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.”
martha barron barrett
walking is free
Walking is 100% completely and totally free. Whether at home or abroad, free is a welcome cost to any budget. And free greatly appeals to my lifestyle of budget full-time travel.
When you walk, you don’t need anything except yourself. You don’t need any special clothes, shoes or gear. You don't need an expensive gym membership, crazy fad workout equipment, or insane workout gear that advertisers are constantly try to sell you.
You don't even need any special skills. You've been doing this since you were only months old, so safe to say you've pretty much got it down.
So, skip the bus. The metro. The tram. The train. The cab. The Uber. The Lyft. The whatever. Skip tracking down the things, waiting for the things, and paying for the things.
A map search will have you getting on a bus or tram for a distance as little as 800 meters. C’mon that’s an easy breezy 10 minute walk. I always click on the little walking man and check the walking distance before I spend any money hopping on anything. Because you can walk.
And since Google maps works offline, you don't even need to worry about burning through any cellular data either. Free, free, and free. Save your wallet and your waistline.
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
you can explore more
When you walk, you take your time. You literally go at your own pace. You notice the little things. You appreciate things. You can explore the local culture, discover hidden gems and find things you’d whiz right by on a bus or train.
You catch the scent of a local bakery. Or a coffee shop. Or the sounds of a local street performer playing Bach. Or see some amazing street art. Or wander into a beautiful natural green space. Meet an animal. Look at the clouds. Breathe the fresh air. And live.
Just think about exactly how you got to wherever you are right now. How many adorable and interesting shops, cafes, book stores, restaurants, parks, or pubs would you never even know existed if you were rushing past them at 60 or 120 mph and merely glancing out the window? Most of them? All of them?
For example, I could have easily took nothing but public transportation when I was in Holland, which all the apps and all the people told me to do, but then I would've missed all the deliciously good parts. I would've never known that they even existed.
I would've missed freshly baked croissants, amazing eats, and deliciously hot espressos and breathtaking architecture, history and amazing art installations. And I would've never seen any of the cool stuff in Amsterdam that I stumbled into, all by merely walking around on my own.
If you enjoy exploring the world and want to continuing doing so, then walking is the best form of transportation you can choose, because there's zero emissions. Completely clean 100% green energy.
“Walking is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside.”
elizabeth von arnim
it makes you happy
I touched on this concept briefly in 11 steps to a happier, healthier and simpler life, but I felt it deserved more attention. A lot more. The mental health benefits of spending time outside in nature, otherwise known as eco-therapy, can do so many good things for your brain. It can help stabilize your mode and fight depression. It can boost creativity and happiness. It can calm you. Reset you.
Walking actually helps your brain function by reducing mental fatigue and helping you think calmer and clearer. That's why you always hear of people going for a walk to ponder things.
And, studies have shown that the endorphins that you get from the exercise can also help get rid of stress and anxiety and even cause feelings of relaxation. All these things make you... you guessed it - happy!
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
walking does a body good
Not only is walking totally free and good for you in a million ways, but guess what, you’ll actually save money on healthcare in the long run because you’re contributing to your overall body health.
Because walking is an aerobic exercise, it boosts your energy by increasing circulation and oxygen supply to all of your cells. It tones muscles and regulates weight. The low impact of the exercise strengthens your bones.
Walking lowers your risk for so many diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, dementia, alzheimer's and cancer. And, being outside gets you some sunshine which turns into your vitamin D dosage. Free vitamins.
It's also healthier because it's safer. You're never trapped on a bus, subway or train car where someone could corner you or murder you. (I may watch too many horror movies.) When you're walking, you're free to escape any weird situation. You're free do whatever you want. Whenever you want. Whereever you want. Walking gives you your freedom.
"Walking is man’s best medicine."
Walking is the natural speed that our brains have evolved to take in stimuli in our surroundings. Therefore, the faster you go, the less you notice, and the less you are actively living in your environment. Instead your over-stimulated neural network is just selecting the most important sensory input that you need to stay alive, and all the rest of the information, the details, information and nuances, go by unnoticed.
Us modern humans have been around nearly 200,000 years, but our ancestors have been here for about 6 million years. Even Lucy the famous Australopithecus, who was over 3 millions years old, walked upright.
So, evolution has made us the bipedal mammals that we are, and we have developed a body posture and gait specifically adapted for walking. When we make a step, we put our heel down first, and then roll our weight onto the foot and toes, and this is the most energy-efficient way. Mother nature figured it out for us.
"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is."
We're meant to walk, not run. Well, unless something is chasing us. But running is not fuel efficient, and it's bad for your joints, because they're not meant to withstand high amounts of chronic stress.
Walking shifts your weight between your hips, but running shifts your weight to your ankles, causing joint strain. And walking is just as good as running when it comes to exercise. So, don't listen the hype of the runners. Just tell them noone's chasing them. Probably best never to listen to people wearing spandex anyways, just as a general life rule.
Speaking of spandex, don't get me started on cycling. Granted I travel light, very light, but I don't get why people worry about purchasing, owning, renting, servicing, repairing, transporting, parking or locking a bicycle, especially since they seem to get stolen all the damn time. But I think the biggest conundrum I have with cyclists is that I genuinely don't understand they enjoy smashing their entire body weight down onto their bits.
Just walk. It's literally easy as putting one foot in front of the other.