Submitted by board member The Rev. Philip Hardwick
Walking is, apparently, the new running. I do not know if you all have heard this as well, and it may be news that comes as a surprise to those of you who are avid runners. But lately there has been an influx of information comparing the benefits of walking and running on a person’s overall health and, as it turns out, walking has far more physical rewards than we initially realized.
It also benefits our minds by increasing productivity and creativity. In studies of older adults, those who walked regularly were able to significantly increase the volume of their hippocampus, the portion of the brain involved with memory. And Harvard Medical School published a report stating that the positive effects of the endorphins released when walking last longer than those of the anti-depressants that now one in ten Americans regularly take.
Walking is also good for the soul, as so many of the world’s religions will attest. One of the five pillars of Islam is the hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, in which pilgrims walk seven times around the ancient Ka’ba in the center courtyard of the Great Mosque. Buddhist pilgrims walk their own their sacred journey to Bodh Gaya in India or Mount Kailash in Tibet. Jesus walked practically everywhere he went, but the most notable were the steps he took during the last hours of his life, when he walked from Pilate’s headquarters to the hill at Golgotha, along a street located in the Old City of Jerusalem. Today Christians walk this same route known as the Via Dolorosa—some of them walking while carrying crosses, while others walk it on their knees.
Body, mind, spirit. For whatever ails us, whatever it is we seek, it seems as though the first step is to literally take a step and begin to walk. Try it.