The Refreshing Value of a Good Walk in the Cold

crossing-walk-signI often find there are times in the day where I habitually slow down. Usually this is when I’m feeling warm and comfortable, like when I’m laying in bed in the morning or have just finished a big meal. Sometimes I’m inspired enough about the next thing I want to do that I can just hop to it, but at times when I can’t seem to get moving, I’ve found it helps to, well, get moving – physically. Just get the body in motion, most effectively by taking a walk outside. It works even better when it’s cold.

This may be especially effective for me – I like to move when I think. I pace when I get on the phone, and I similarly do laps around my home when I’m working through an idea or a problem, much like  Scrooge McDuck used to do (though I always associated it more with thinking than worrying –  but I definitely recall the inch deep wear in the floor). I could never sit still as a child either. Motion has always been good for me, or at least a very natural inclination.

When I slip on my boots and head out into the cold for a walk, even a short one, I find a world of focus opens up almost instantly. By freeing my body from wondering what it’s to do next, I simultaneously free my mind to stop dealing with my (at that moment) lazy body’s complaints and reconnect with ideas that excite me. I can organize my thoughts and come up with a plan I feel good about.

A side benefit of it being cold out is that it takes away my body’s innate desire to refrain from changing a warm and cozy situation. I get back home after just ten minutes, too little time for me to feel cold or like I don’t have time to do exactly everything I had time to do before I left, with my blood moving. Despite having returned to a warm home, for the first few minutes my body is now convinced that motion is its normal state, and it wants to keep moving. I can then launch into whatever’s next for my day.

I’ve always wanted to stay moving after a walk – Many times I’ve walked home after work and entered eager to move around, make dinner, get things done. If, on the other hand, I’ve been sitting around for a while, the mere fact of having finished a day’s work inspires no such flurry of activity. Not everyone will be like that – I know people who just come home and want to crash. But for me, I know that setting myself in motion is a good way to keep me going, rather than tire me out. By keeping an eye on myself over the last year I’ve identified times I tend to slow down, and often insert a walk afterwards as a matter of routine. With that refreshing ten minute excursion, I can often head off a half hour or more of unpleasant procrastination* – that’s a pretty fantastic value in my book.

*Note that not all procrastination is unpleasant – a favored alternative method is to simply get up and do something I “factually know” I will be happy I did during that time, often household chores like laundry or dishes, but sometimes “fun” things like reading or a game. I may not get back to work as quickly, but I’ll still be happy with how I spent my day as whole when all’s said and done. The trick is to be aware of what “factually” is on your good to do list – a subject for another post.


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