Why I Walk

Michael Shukis

Why I Walk


Sometimes I wonder what the world would look like if we spent more time on our feet. I think walking is important. We're meant to walk and we benefit from more of it. It's one of my favorite things to do every day. Walking clears my head and helps me think. I walk for many reasons. I'll share a few of them here. Maybe you'll find a reason to walk more.

Walking helps me think. Walking gives me space and helps me see what's going on in my head. It slows me down. It gives me time to process thoughts, ideas, and decisions. Walking helps me figure out what to do next. There's a magic in walking that I can't explain. Walking and thinking are the perfect pair. I don't know why, but it works. Nietzsche said, "All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking." I agree.

While I walk to think, I also walk to not think. Thinking of nothing is my favorite. Maybe that means I'm thinking. I don't know. Thinking of nothing might be when the best thinking happens. My favorite walks have no agenda. I like walking with no goal in mind other than covering ground. It's fun to see where my thoughts take. It's my way of disconnecting and breathing. Literally.

I walk to move. Walking isn't exercise. It's a way to move. It's a way to recover. If you're like me, you sit too much. Walking is my favorite way to get on my feet and avoid sitting. A body in motion has the best chance of staying in motion. Walking is the perfect movement. Sitting all day isn't healthy. Unfortunately, many of our jobs force us to park our rear-ends in front of a computer screen all day. But walking counteracts sitting. To be healthy, you need something that makes you move. Anything is better than nothing. My thing is walking. It's my way of moving and avoiding the poisonous couch.

Walking focuses me on the basics. Fundamentals are important. No matter what people tell you, simple things matter. Simple is better than complex. Nothing is simpler than getting up, tying your shoes, and heading out for a walk. It's so simple it's hard. But that's why I do it.

Walking is so easy to do that few people do it. Staying on the couch at home is easier than walking. But easy doesn't help you. So get up. Walk around the neighborhood. Park far away at the grocery and enjoy a walk in and out. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Avoid the human conveyor belt at the airport. If possible, walk where you're going instead of drive. Walking is simple. Use every possible opportunity to walk. The more time outside the better.

Walking gets me outside. I don't walk on treadmills or in gyms. Those are bad options. There's nothing natural about walking on a surface that moves for you. The point of walking is to move yourself. I walk to be in nature. There's something about walking outside, seeing the sunrise, hearing the birds, watching the animals, and smelling the smells. I can't explain the satisfaction of stepping on a pine cone and hearing the crunch it makes. You have to experience it. It's hard to be in a bad mood after walking outside. Nebraska's freezing winters and blistering summers don't stop me. Weather is no excuse. Walking is too important to miss a day.

I walk to avoid my phone and screens. Walking is an escape from technology. Staying off my phone isn't easy. It's designed to draw me in and steal my attention. Sometimes I catch myself on it too much. I know it's happening when I feel pressed for time; like I need to squeeze things in or go from task to task. It doesn't feel good. Figuring this out takes weeks. But walking fixes this. When I walk, I like to leave my phone at home. Walking is just for walking–nothing else. If I bring my phone, it stays in my pocket on silent. No distractions while walking. And by the way, silent mode is Apple's best invention. If you don't use it, start now.

Writing helps me generate ideas. Moving makes me think. Sometimes I get stuck and confused, not knowing what to do next. Walking is how I fix this. By stepping away from the situation, I give myself a chance to process it. Separating myself allows me to see it. I need to think while I'm moving, not sitting.

I love to write. To write, I need things to write about. Things that interest me or things that annoy me. Things I can't not think about. Walking is how I think of things. Lifting weights helps too, but I'm talking about writing today. My mind works when I'm active. I don't put any rules or expectations on myself when I walk. I walk and let things come and go in and out of my mind. What I'm doing isn't important. The important thing is that I'm on my feet, walking.

I walk because most people don't. I grew up playing sports and I spent a decade coaching. Competing in sports, I always looked for ways to improve. I searched for an edge; things that nobody else did. This competitive nature has transferred to my daily life. I'm always looking for ways to be better. Ways to be more productive and efficient. That's not always good, but it's what I do. Walking is an edge. It keeps me in shape, helps me think, and helps me process life. Most people are sedentary. Walking is an advantage over people that do nothing. An active life is better than a passive one. Life is better on your feet.

I walk because it's inconvenient. There's always something else I could be doing. More things to check off my to-do list. Stuff to do for work. Things to clean up around the house. I can think of a hundred reasons not to walk. But I choose to walk. The longer my to-do list, the more I need to walk. I force myself to walk when I don't feel like walking. My dog helps. She needs to walk. So we go together.

Life's funny that way. The things we don't want to do are the things we need to do. We need what we avoid. I know I need to walk when I don't feel it. I look for excuses, but I know I need to tie my shoes and go. Sacrifices are necessary to live a good life. I don't feel good if I only do what I want every day. I can't expect to have a good day unless I've suffered and, in a sense, paid my dues for the day. To have a good day, I need to make some hard choices. Comfort is the enemy of a good life. At times, walking is inconvenient. But that's why I have to go. It's always worth it.

Walking helps me feel good. I've never felt worse after walking. I always feel better. Moving is magic for the body. So many problems are solved by walking. Walking helps me ignore what's not important. It makes me grateful. It surprises me. It refreshes me. It puts me in a better mood. No matter the weather or time of day, walking always leaves me feeling better. It never disappoints. A life without walking is no life at all. As long as I'm able, I'll walk.

Earlier I said I walk to avoid my phone. That's usually true. If I bring my phone, I use it to call my family and friends. I recently listened to Jim Wendler on Dave Tate's podcast. Jim said he takes a five-mile walk every day. His wife takes one too. Jim walks to clear his head and call his parents. He looks forward to talking with his parents while he walks the neighborhood. So I stole this idea from Jim. I love talking to friends and family on my walks. I look forward to it every day. Walking is the perfect time to call and talk about anything. I think it's important to talk to the people you care about regularly. Walking is when I do that.

I can't imagine my life without walking. Along with reading, writing, and training, walking is an important thing I do every day. There's no valid excuse to avoid walking. Walking gives me space to be alone and think. It helps me process what's going on around me. It helps me talk to people. And walking makes me grateful. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you hear birds chirping and see the sunrise.

Take a walk if you haven't tried it. Go today, not tomorrow. You won't regret it. You might even like it. Crazier things have happened. And you never know what might happen if you walk every day. You might think of an idea that changes your life. Or you might think of something that changes the world. You never know. But you'll never know unless you try. A walk doesn't need to be long; anything is better than nothing. The important thing is that you do it. Get up and get moving.

tags: walk,focus

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