Nov 6, 2020 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Ellie Gober | Jubilee Rivera-Hernandez

Walking. It seems so mundane in our busy world. Often we see it as a chore. We have to walk to class, walk to work, walk everywhere. Other devices, such as bikes and cars, were invented to get us places faster. Everything has to be faster. It is our modern world’s vice. Everyone has to be doing something constantly.

Rebecca Solnit, an American writer, explored walking in her writing. She drew upon history and modern culture to write about walking as an art form. “The disembodiment of everyday life I have been tracing is a majority experience, part of automobilization and suburbanization,” she wrote in her book Wanderlust. “But walking has sometimes been, at least since the late eighteenth century, an act of resistance to the mainstream.” 

Recently, in my English class (EN286), the students and professors explored simply walking. Jane Hilberry and Shawn Womack, the teachers, sent their students on a one hour silent walk. We were instructed to just walk with no one else, in silence, and slower than our usual pace. Why? Walking is powerful, as is silence.

As Solnit stated, it is an “act of resistance.” Walking has been around forever, but it “ceased to be part of the continuum of experience and instead became something consciously chosen. In many ways, walking culture was a reaction against the speed and alienation of the industrial revolution,” she wrote. As we continue to dive deeper into our ever-busy working world, there are choices that we can make that help us slow down and reconnect with our bodies’ ability to move.

Not only is walking a helpful act mentally and physically for basic body health, it can have great long term benefits. According to an article put out by Harvard Health Publishing, walking can help all aspects of health, notably including the immune system. “A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder,” according to the article.

This is important, especially as we head into flu season and a rise in COVID-19 cases. Walking is another way to keep your immune system healthy, and it is easy to do socially distanced.

Overall, walking has many mental and physical benefits. It is a movement humans have been doing since the beginning of our existence. Yet, in the modern world, walking has become just another chore. We drive, bike, run, and do anything to get places except walk. But choosing to walk can benefit our health in every way possible — Solnit positioned its role in re-centering as radical, saying, “It may be counterculture and subcultures that will continue to walk in resistance to the postindustrial, postmodern loss of space, time, and embodiment.”

So, this week, as we are all feeling the effects of an important election, rising COVID-19 cases, and keeping up with school, go for a walk. Walk silently, with friends, or with a dog. Walk for five minutes, or an hour. Go for a walk and let the movement settle your mind and body.  

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