Why You Should Go For a Walk

Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale spent a segment talking about a book called Move by Caroline Williams and its assessment by Joel Miller of Miller’s Book Review.

The subtitle of the book reads “The New Science of Body Over Mind, which is an interesting tagline given that for decades, the saying has always been “Mind over Matter”. But, as Cale pointed out, there’s an implied fault in that phrase that says our body may not be as important as the other components of our personhood.

While the destination of our soul is our main concern in our life’s journey, “We’re not souls who are trapped in bodies, like our bodies are some sort of prison for our soul. We are body-soul unities.” God said that on the last day, our resurrected bodies would be reunited with our souls. The failure to recognize this truth has led to so many issues in our culture including gender dysphoria, obesity, and bodily harm and abuse.

“‘It doesn’t matter what I do with my body. As long as I believe the right thing, it doesn’t matter what I do. God knows what I really believe in my heart.’ That’s ridiculous. No, your beliefs have to match your behavior,” Cale contended. Actions speak louder than words. If you believe that health and care for your body are important, then show it.

Knowing that your soul, mind, and body must be on the same page as far as moral behavior, it only follows that a healthy body is at least somewhat indicative of the way you take care of your soul. A 2016 study from Indiana University showed that people with clean and organized houses and rooms often led more healthy and organized lifestyles. The idea of body and soul unity is similar.

Joel Miller, who reviewed Move, outlined another study that exhibited this correlation. A Dartmouth research group equipped 275 participants with fitness trackers and monitored their fitness activity and work performance for a whole year. They wanted to see how exercise might impact work, stress levels, and routine.

What they found was that if a person drove to work, by and large, that negatively impacted their work performance. However, those who commuted via a more active method – riding a bike, walking, public transportation – exhibited much lower levels of stress and performed better at work. They also had better consistency in their arrival and departure times, implying that routine influences performance.

But outside of the case of commuting to and from work, what benefits does walking provide? If you’re just “going for a walk”, what’s the point? You’re not going anywhere. Well, the research didn’t stop at work performance. Williams also delved into the other physical effects of moving, besides cardiovascular health and circulation, and found that moving also improves our emotional outlook and intellectual function.

When you begin to move, your heart rate increases so that your heart can pump blood to your body faster. As your heart rate catches up with your body’s exertion, you “hit your stride” in rhythm, and endorphins are released in the brain. Endorphins are a natural painkiller that can improve mood and boost one’s attitude.

Further, as mentioned above, moving can help improve your mental faculties and inform your decision-making and the way you think. In fact, moving while thinking is actually our “biological baseline” according to Williams’s research. We were meant to be on our feet while we think.

“If we don’t do that, our brains actually make a decision for us to save energy by cutting brain capacity…If you’re not moving, your brain kind of makes this internal decision to cut energy; cut your brain capacity, so you’re not functioning at full capacity.” Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was famous for taking advantage of the benefit of moving by taking people for walks whenever they had to make a big decision at the company.

Whether he realized it or not, what was actually happening in Jobs’s brain when he walked was he was boosting the production of two important molecules. The first is what’s known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), known famously by Dr. John J. Ratey as “Miracle-Gro for the brain”. BDNF is the protein in our brains and spinal cord that boosts memory and neural connectivity. In other words, it makes it significantly easier for information to pass from one part of the brain to the other. It helps us think clearer, remember and retain more information, and make bigger decisions with more certainty.

The second molecule that’s produced through movement is osteocalcin, another protein that enters the bloodstream when we tear and strain muscles through exercise. When osteocalcin enters the blood, it travels across the blood/brain barrier and has several effects on our minds. It boosts memory, promotes spatial learning, and actually prevents anxiety-driven behavior.

Reductions in stress and anxiety, boost in memory and endorphin production, and clearer thinking all sound like improvements to our health and bodies, and they are. But these bodily benefits can also serve as tools to help us in the way we conduct ourselves when our decision-making is required for the tougher issues: the ones that will affect our souls.

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.