Walking and Our Minds

Over at CNN Money, Matt McFarland looks into the the benefits of taking walks and why so many top execs take them:

Marc Berman, a University of Chicago psychology professor, has found that walking in nature can improve what’s called directed attention, when we force ourselves to focus on a task. With the other type of attention, involuntary attention, our interest is naturally captured and held, such as by a sunset.

“You don’t hear people say ‘Wow I’m so exhausted looking at that beautiful waterfall,'” Berman told CNNMoney.

When we’re in nature, our directed attention isn’t lost on distractions. You don’t waste brainpower focusing on the conference room you’re in, your chirping cell phone, or making sure a car won’t hit you. We only have so much attention to use, so saving every bit is an advantage.

I take walks all the time. I suppose the habit began during the 10 years I lived in Manhattan. When you live in New York you do a lot of walking. I walked everywhere and for different reasons. Sometimes I walked to clear my head, sometimes to take pictures, and sometimes just because the weather was nice.

I recommend everybody pick up this habit. There are no downsides, just don’t fall down a hole or get hit by a car.