Walking is something college students do every day, whether walking to class, going out to eat with friends or heading to an IU game. It is what gets us from point A to point B. And now that fall finally seems to be arriving in Bloomington, it is the perfect time to enjoy a walk. The leaves are changing, the squirrels are out digging in the dirt and it is no longer scorching hot every day. But walking is more than just a way to get around –– it can boost your mood, improve your health and spark creativity.
Walking has been proven to have a healthy impact on both your emotional and mental health, making it a great activity when dealing with stressful exams or challenging life events. According to WebMD walking “has a positive influence on your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is your central nervous response system. This is good because the HPA axis is responsible for your stress response.”
Need to write a paper for class, but cannot seem to get started? Wander around for inspiration. Writers such as Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau were all known to take their fair share of walks. According to Runners World, Dickens walked as many as 20 miles every day. And Virgina Woolf would walk the streets of London for inspiration. These writers were on to something that is backed by research.
In 2014, Stanford researchers found a connection between walking and its impact on creativity. Their study showed a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60% when walking rather than sitting.
Usually when many of us walk, we have our phone out or headphones in, but by turning off our devices we notice things around us we would not have otherwise. One of my favorite things to do is to walk in a random direction, taking in my surroundings. In Thoreau’s essay “Walking” he writes “...the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise...but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”
I’ve lived in Bloomington my entire life, but I still find places I’ve never been before. It’s my favorite part of taking a stroll. It makes me appreciate Bloomington even more. Often, my roommate and I will take walks together, which makes space for great conversation.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, most of us know walking helps to improve physical health. According to Better Health, even 30 minutes each day “can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscle power and endurance.”
In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So, take a break from your phone and AirPods. Wander in a random direction and notice the wonders of life. Take a walk to give your body and mind a healthy boost. It can be a real breath of fresh air.
Jack Davis is a freshman studying journalism.