Why Big Thinkers choose to walk as part of their workday

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What do Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Aristotle, and Charles Dickens have in common?

Not only were they responsible for changing our worlds as we know it technologically, socially, philosophically and literary, they were also walkers.

Jobs famously insisted on walking meetings, Zuckerberg has reportedly clinched major deals while negotiating on foot, Aristotle is said to have given his lectures while walking (his students had to follow), and Dickens was known for long walks in which he de-stressed and simultaneously observed his surroundings for inspiration. He was also quite melodramatic about it, saying “If I could not walk far and fast, I think I would just explode and perish.”

But it’s not only anecdotal tales that sing the praises of the benefits of walking. The ancient father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, was quoted saying “walking is man’s best medicine” and a 2015 meta-analysis and review study of over 47 studies published in the Annals of Internal medicine found this to still hold true. In the study, it was concluded that prolonged sitting was independently associated with negative health outcomes, regardless of other physical activity. The studies that were reviewed looked at cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and all-cause mortality and its relationship with sedentary behaviour. In short, it found that sitting for long periods of time, even if you regularly do your 30 minute gym session in the morning, increases your risk of health markers associated with death and disease. 

Though there’s no consensus yet on the golden ratio between sitting, standing and walking, in order to reach the maximum health benefits, the research is unambiguous about decreasing the amount of chair time you get to improve your health. The British Medical Sports Journal published an article last year giving a suggestion of 20 minutes of sitting to be followed by 8 minutes of standing and at least 2 minutes of moving.

And your physical health isn’t the only thing that benefits from walking: research recently conducted at Stanford University found that walking increased creativity in 81% of their subjects by at least 60% after conducting experiments on control groups. Though this was a small trail with many unknown variables that still needs to be explored, a possible explanation offered was that walking might increase the ease of which associative memories are activated. Funny that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted this in the 1800’s already when he said that “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.

 With so much compelling evidence on the benefits of moving, why are we still spending over 9 hours sitting every day? Let’s get up and walk!


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