What’s the deal? My brother, a one-time professional pacer, is now clocking up to 20km a day. My marathoner pal rings me up and says, “Hey Jo, wanna go for a walk?” On our stroll, we bump into countless friends all conspiring the very same thing.

I find I’m walking oodles whether side-by-side with someone or alone together through our headsets. Unbeknownst to me, I’ve even purchased walking shoes. Could it be that COVID has made walking the activity du jour? Or is it that I’m middle-aged and this is now the hippest of ‘sports’. Maybe it’s the pandemic puppy pandemonium or that walking has always been a thing — and I’m just slow off the mark.

It’s irrelevant why — what is interesting is how the flaneur has returned with a vengeance.

The Stroll and Scribble

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was an incredible walker. Suffering terrible headaches that kept him bedridden — long walks became his remedy and solitude his solace.

Image from Medium

Walking up to eight hours a day, much of his writing was ’written’ this way. When struck with a bolt of inspiration he’d scribble something down in his small notebook. He wrote several books this way. Never did he trust a thought that didn’t come by walking.

Since I’ve known him, my good friend is a stroller and scribbler. It’s gotten to the point where he’s filled up hundreds of small passport-sized journals and I’m still waiting patiently for his next book ?

Walking is so powerful is because your inner world quietens and the world around you opens up. You give your mind a chance to reflect, integrate, and ruminate — and often find that the problems that once had you stuck do so no longer.

Leaving It All Behind

We leave something behind when we go for a walk. Maybe it’s our mind we leave, or our worries, or our identity? Something lays to rest where we were. And where we’re heading brings with it new surprises, novel wonders, and familiar places to rediscover.

Your body in motion gives your cognitive brain a well-deserved break and provides your subconscious mind a turn at the wheel. The Wu Wei that you may feel means your energy and attention is flowing in a virtuous way — to the rhythm of life

My only wish is that we all could walk a mile in each other’s shoes.


  • Jonas Altman

    Coach, Facilitator, and Writer

    Altman is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur on a mission to make the world of work more human. He is the founder of design practice Social Fabric and his chronicles have appeared in The Guardian, Quartz, and The Sunday Times.  You can grab his new book here