If you’ve ever been to Japan, you might find it surprising that they have such a high life expectancy: They eat TONS of meat and rice, they work too much and they typically don’t look very fit.
Still, Japan has a very low obesity rate, almost everybody is slim. But the Japanese don’t really have a workout culture – it’s not like in the US or parts of Europe or Latin America, you won’t see many ripped guys with a huge biceps. Most people don’t have a gym membership, and you don’t see them jogging around like maniacs either. In surveys, half of Japanese say that they don’t work out at all.
But looking more closely, you’ll find out the Japanese do exercise, but in a way that’s weaved into their lifestyle: They walk.
Japanese adults walk an average of 6500 steps a day, which you’ll know is a pretty high number if you’ve ever tracked your steps with your smartphone or a Fitbit (it’s also not unrealistically high, it’s maybe 40 minutes of walking per day).
This article by Kaki Omura explains it well:
Most Japanese citizens live in very walkable cities where public transportation is convenient, safe, and affordable, and not many households own cars. As a consequence, when most people go to work, they walk. When people go grocery shopping, they walk. When people are going out for dinner, they walk. It’s an activity adopted every day by every generation: walking is a part of daily life like breathing is.
I have to say walking is one of my favorite things to do (I guess I’m really old and boring if walking is the highlight of my day, but hey, so be it).
It’s one of the few things I do every day around lunchtime, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
Walking has so many benefits:
- Our physiology is built for long distance walking, there’s no doubt about it. My body is happy if I’m walking around instead of sitting all day, which in and of itself makes me tense and stressed out
- I’m getting some Vitamin D, which is crucial for the immune system (80% of Covid patients who get sick from it lack Vitamin D, by the way)
- I can run some errands (I tend to go to the supermarket which is half an hour away for grocery shopping) and get to know my neighbourhood
- I like to listen to podcasts or call a friend when walking, but I generally try to avoid distractions, and just walk and breathe
- You can make it an actual, intense workout if you want (if you don’t believe me, go on a steep hike for a few hours – you’ll probably have sore muscles for a week or so)
But I think there’s a deeper reason why walking is great for us. Walking is more of a meditation, if done right.
It’s a deliberate choice for slowing down.
Sure, there are more efficient ways to get to wherever I’m going. I could save time by taking the car and I could build more muscles by running.
But that’s the point: I don’t want to be efficient and productive all the time.
There’s a place for running and lifting heavy weights, which I like too. But when I walk, I want to quiet that all-too-loud voice in my head down, which keeps on telling me that I need to do more and pushes me to achieve.
Walking is a conscious choice to move from this doing mode to just being.
It shows me that not everything in life needs to be hard, I don’t need to struggle, to fight, to torture myself in order to feel good about myself. What a luxury it is to spend 30 minutes just taking a walk!
There’s no goal in walking, really. There’s no time to beat, I can’t be amazingly good at walking or bad at it.
I just do it, and I do it for myself.
And to incentivize you to go on take more walks, here’s a picture from a recent hike in the Swiss mountains
😴 What might help you find calm
Intentional ASMR Picks:
- Loved this 1,5 hour ASMR masterpiece by Stacy Aster with 17 Cozy Triggers by (my favorite was the Golden Bag nail tapping)
- I enjoyed this 1890s man on a train roleplay by Atlas – he has the right voice & outfit, and I appreciate the authentic camera and newspaper
- And there’s this unique slimy slug massage and other deep, intense triggers by Zeitgeist – recommended!
- I love those First Class Flight Attendant roleplays – and here’s another excellent one by TingTing
Unintentional ASMR Picks:
- Did you know Viggo Mortensen speaks 7 languages? Here’s proof, and it’s relaxing! I love his voice, and the fact that he’s a polyglot. Also check out his older interview while filming Lord of the Rings
- Maybe not the most relaxing topic, but this gave me ASMR: A soft-spoken doctor, Brian Sutterer, MD commenting on UFC’s Tyron Woodley’s Rib Injury
- John Michael Godier has an interesting channel and his voice is super nice. Check out 10 Alien First Contact Scenarios for instance
- I found this documentary (I cut out the loud parts) on the creation process of a Japanese Anime (Little Witch Academia) super interesting (and a bit sad regarding the pressure and the working conditions for the young animators)