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Walking and noticing

I've been planning to write about walking this week since the last blog, but of course now that I come to actually write about it, can I remember all the ideas that have been buzzing around inside my head? As usual I have been doing a lot of walking, but the new year marked the start of a new Go Jauntly challenge and so over the last few weeks my walking has become a bit more intentional. Some might say obsessive. I do track my steps every day and hit the totally random 10,000 pretty much all the time. And yes, that figure is totally made up, the result of a Japanese marketing campaign in the 1960s, but one that has stuck. In the linked article from the BBC, Michael Mosley is pleased to find that 3 short brisk walks per day, the equivalent of about 3,000 steps makes you fitter than ambling for 10,000. He's quoted as saying "I really don't like doing 10,000 steps". Fair enough, but sometimes ambling is also good for you, say for example if you're going on an awe walk. The latest podcast from On Being is "The Thrilling New Science of Awe" with Dacher Keltner from the Greater Good Science Centre. His book "Awe: The Transformative Power of Everyday Wonder" has just been published and I can't wait to read it. The book is built around the eight wonders of everyday life which produce the most awe which have discovered through his research, and amongst the very ordinary things he names that induce awe are flowers blooming and the pattern of light on the sidewalk. Then later he talks about how as he was experiencing profound grief at the death of his brother, he turned finding awe into a practice, by taking awe walks. He suggests going out for a walk, looking for things that amaze you, big and small. You can hear a brief snippet of him talking about them here. Before I heard the part about an awe walk, I just went on an ordinary walk to the library which turned into an awe walk as I peeked over a garden wall and saw the beauty in the picture looking back at me. At this time of year there are plenty of opportunities for nature to surprise you if you keep looking. Also just to note Michael Mosley has also talked about the benefits of an early morning walk (Better sleep! Healthier heart! Happier mood!) and noticing nature (Stronger immune system! Less health risks!) on his Just One Thing programme. Although I think that if you were doing all the Just One Things he has investigated then you wouldn't have much time for other things, although maybe I will just look into tai chi...

I've just finished reading a book on the philosophy of walking, and rather than Kierkegaard, it was Kant that stuck with me, possibly because I really struggled with Kant when I was studying philosophy. Now I've discovered he was this weird dude who took the same short walk around his neighbourhood every day. He didn't even walk quickly as he hated to sweat. The rumour was that he was only ever known to have altered his route twice and one of those times was to get news of the French Revolution. He refused to walk with friends as he wanted to breathe through his nose the whole time, and the presence of others would have made this impossible as he would have had to talk to them. Anyway, his main reason for walking was as a distraction from his work, and to be honest, I'm not surprised. It used to take a lot more than a walk for me to get over reading Kant as a student!

I got an exciting email this week from one of Get Walking Lanarkshire's health walk leaders, Antje Bothin. It contained a poem she had written about all the various reasons to get out for a walk. If you'd like to join a health walk, you can find out more and check out the timetable on their website. If you can't find one to suit or would rather walk alone like Kant, then why not sign up to the Go Jauntly challenge. Although it started on 1st January, you've got all year to walk 2023 kilometres. It's tracking how far you walk but not holding you hostage to those 10,000 steps a day. In fact, after doing some very complicated maths to work out how many steps I take per kilometre, and less complicated maths to see how many days there are left in the year, I can confirm that if you start the challenge RIGHT NOW, then you would hit the target by 31st December without quite having to do 10,000 steps per day. Plus every time you hit a milestone, 10km, 25km, etc you get a badge and are showered with stars. Not literally, but I still get a wee dopamine hit from it, and it must be better for you than a facebook like. If you don't feel like you can fit the 10,000 steps in then you can still use Go Jauntly to inspire you to get out for those three shorter brisker walks as there's another 3,000 step challenge happening for six weeks (About another four by the time you read this, sorry!) and that will set you up nicely with a 3,000 steps a day habit, if you believe the theory that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

Finally, the theme of music from nature continues. Previously I've shared our wee video about drumming in nature, but this week I've discovered a percussionist who graduated from instruments made of wood, granite and slate to becoming the pioneer of ice music. Terje Isungest has created whole albums with instruments constructed from ice, including harps, trumpets and drums and in 2006 founded the Ice Music Festival in Norway. It took place last week and included music performances in igloos as well as talks from world class climate change scientists, drawing attention to the profound changes global warming is making to earth's ice. There's a film, Sound of Ice, about his work coming out in 2024, but in the meantime check out a performance from Spitsbergen.

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