Zen and the art of an open line: Take a walk | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Zen and the art of an open line: Take a walk

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 3:06 PM


Here's your open line and daily video roundup. Also, today's sermon:

* WALKING IS GOOD FOR YOU: I followed a link from a Chelsea Clinton Twitter to a New Yorker article on the benefits of walking and I recommend it. Not only do you feel good after taking a walk, science says you think more clearly. Check this out:

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. 

There's more, but it's all good.

I'm an evangelist on the subject. In the winter of 1993, when many years of jogging and extra weight had begun to take a toll on my knees, I changed to walking. Since then, my wife and I try to start every day with a walk. We haven't missed many in the 21 years since. It hasn't made me skinny, but my blood pressure is good, I feel good and — when we travel — I can cover a lot of ground on what my mother used to call "shank's mare." Those trips have included a 60-mile village-to-village walk around the Cotswolds in England; treks in the Dolomites of Italy, and many a mile on the meticulously mapped and cared-for wanderwegs of Switzerland. (And the first 75 miles of the Ouachita Trail.) The feeling of well-being is immense; the cold beer at trail's end well-earned.

I feel good just thinking about walking. The New Yorker article says where you walk matters, too. A pastoral walk offers "unique advantages for the mind." The soul, too. I was reminded of a hike I took last summer around a mountaintop overlooking a Norwegian fjord. Apart from a solitary horsewoman, I was alone on a four-mile trail around sheep pastures, through forest and finally downhill alongside the rush of a cold, salmon-filled river tumbling over rocks. It was exhilarating. It even beat the Kavanaugh Promenade in Hillcrest.

Forgive my self-indulgence. Take a walk. Fancy gear isn't necessary, nor club memberships. Open your front door and start walking.

click to enlarge GOOD FOR THE MIND: A pastoral walk, such as this one I took in Norway.
  • GOOD FOR THE MIND: A pastoral walk, such as this one I took in Norway.


* MAYBE THIS COUPLE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A WALK: The report here is of the arrest of an Alexander man for attempted murder for shooting his wife multiple times at the Buffalo Point Campground on the Buffalo River. She's in critical condition. He's in jail.

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