Shane O’Mara—a professor of experimental brain research, focusing on stress, depression and anxiety; and learning, memory and cognition—has written a new book titled In Praise of Walking. The Guardian did a feature on in him. Some quotes:

  • Guardian: “He knows this not only through personal experience, but from cold, hard data – walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier.”
  • O’Mara: “Our sensory systems work at their best when they’re moving about the world.”
  • O’Mara: We can see “from the scientific literature, that getting people to engage in physical activity before they engage in a creative act is very powerful. My notion—and we need to test this—is that the activation that occurs across the whole of the brain during problem-solving becomes much greater almost as an accident of walking demanding lots of neural resources.”
  • O’Mara: When you’re walking “there are all sorts of rhythms happening in the brain as a result of engaging in that kind of activity, and they’re absent when you’re sitting. One of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.”

o   Advantages of walking as exercise:

  • From the article: “Some people, I point out, don’t think walking counts as proper exercise. “This is a terrible mistake,” he says. “What we need to be is much more generally active over the course of the day than we are.” And often, an hour at the gym doesn’t cut it. “What you see if you get people to wear activity monitors is that because they engage in an hour of really intense activity, they engage in much less activity afterwards.”
  • From the article: “Not that he is opposed to vigorous exercise, but walking is much more accessible and easily woven into everyday life: “You don’t need to bring anything other than comfy shoes and a rain jacket. You don’t have to engage in lots of preparation; stretching, warm-up, warm-down …”

o   Some studies

  • In 2018 a study was published that tracked people over 20 years. It found that those that lived the most sedentary “showed malign personality changes, scoring lower in the positive traits: openness, extraversion and agreeableness.”
  • Other studies show that walkers have much lower rates of depression.

o   The author talked about her partner, who had a brain injury. Walking help him recover.

o   O’Mara also lists a number of famous people who used walking in their routines

  • William Wordsworth wrote poetry as he walked around.
  • Charles Dickens was, according to the article, “as prolific a walker as he was a writer.”
  • Aristotle would deliver lectures while walking around his school
  • Philosopher Bertrand Russell said walking was integral to his work.

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