Hate sitting and planning? Take a walk.

by Lisa Rothstein on 07/02/2011

Walking is a great exercise practice, but that’s not why I do it.

Beethoven did it to compose music, and himself. And I’ve discovered that walking is a great way to plan my day, come up with new ideas, mull over old ones and get focused on what I really want. When I walk in the morning it sets me up for a more fulfilling, more creative, more productive day.

I’ve learned the hard way. Like a lot of DaVincis, I have a tendency to get distracted by all the projects around me, so sitting at my desk — especially with a computer present — is a recipe for a wasted morning, even though my intention was to do some responsible, careful planning.

Also, when sitting and thinking, I am also likely to tip over into brooding or obsessing …and the negative thoughts that inevitably come up (What if the client doesn’t like the copy I’m going to write? How am I going to get even half of this done? Why didn’t I do all this stuff yesterday? ) can blow my energy as easily as looking at my email inbox (which you should NEVER do first thing in the morning, by the way!)

One morning, I was so restless and miserable that I decided to take a walk. It turned out to be a great decision, and it’s become a routine I follow almost every morning.

So what’s so great about walking if you’re a multi-talented person?

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Walking gets your blood and oxygen flowing. The more blood and oxygen to your brain, the clearer your thinking, which is great for planning your day and solving problems. And studies show that the increased flow plus the seratonin your body pumps into your bloodstream also lifts your mood. If you often wake up in a negative state, this alone is a great reason to start your day with a walk.

Walking reminds you there’s an outside world. I live in a rather boring suburb, but in the morning there’s a fair amount of wildlife and the sights and sounds that come with it.  Seeing the flowers and hearing the symphony of birds every morning makes me feel all’s right with the world. I’m in a much better mood when I come back.

Walking takes the edge off that restless energy. If you have trouble buckling down to work because you just can’t seem to sit still, a brisk walk helps you feel calm — and just a little bit tired out — so sitting down to the job at hand and staying there is a little bit easier.

Walking first thing means you’ve already gotten something accomplished. If getting in shape is a goal, you’ve just done something good for yourself that won’t get put off until it’s too late or you’re too busy.  When you get back, there’s a sense of having gotten something significant done.

Walking makes anywhere your (uncluttered) office. Once you get accustomed to thinking while you’re walking, you’ll find yourself having great thoughts everywhere, without having to be sitting at your desk. In fact, getting away from the clutter on your desk will free your mind.

Walking is an opportunity for attitude adjustment. Whether you’re into affirmations or you’re like me and like to listen to motivational recordings on your ipod as you walk, your morning constitutional gives you a perfect space to fill the space between your ears with good thoughts. Sometimes, I don’t listen to anything but the birds, especially when I have a problem to work out, but other days it’s great to have Les Brown or one of my other favorite speakers on the walk with me.  Studies show that left to our own devices, 80% of our thoughts are negative — so it makes sense to feed ourselves the positive ones when we can!

So if you want to have a great, productive day, your first step could be to beat it. Get out of the house, out of your head and hit the pavement!

Activity: Try walking every morning for a week before doing any work. To make it easier, lay out your clothes and running or walking shoes the night before. Load up your ipod if that’s what you plan to do while walking. Or maybe take a mini notebook or digital recorder with you in case the muse decides to fall in step beside you! Notice how you feel the rest of the day.

How do you like to start and plan your day? Please share below!

Want to re-publish this article? Go for it – just include the author’s name, a link to this original post and the following text blurb:

Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Danny July 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Hi Lisa, I cannot agree any more. I started walking every morning for about an hour in the country side. Maggie and I live in one of the most over populated concreate jungles in the world – Hong Kong. All we see day to day is concrete. I don’t think humankind was meant to live that way. Walking helps me get grounded and back in tune with the natrual pace of nature. It’s now a vital part of my daily routine for physical and mental health.

Havard July 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I love this post! I love working out in the morning, it is the ABSOLUTE best way to start the day. It brings clarity of mind and makes you feel good for hours afterwards. I used to lift weights very early in the morning when I was younger, these days I walk for an hour and a half before work every weekday.

Natasha July 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

Hi Lisa, this is terrific advice. I went for a long walk in the forest yesterday and took a break from work and I cannot tell you how much benefit I got out of that. I was more clear, more relaxed and slept better than I have in weeks. Great post!

Maggie July 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

Due to my high blood pressure, I’ve been doing more active exercising like my aerobics class. At first I hated it but I discovered it freed my mind and let me get creative. Now I look forward to it every day. There is definitely truth in taking a walk to get your creativity sparking again.
Maggie recently posted..Living with Tinnitus

Kathleen Gage July 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I love to walk to generate ideas. I do power walking for a minimum of 2 miles – up to 4 or 5 – and it really does work.
Kathleen Gage recently posted..99 Cent Experiment – Did I succeed or fail?

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