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Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill. It defines us as a species. It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other without thinking – yet how many of us know how we do that, or appreciate the advantages it gives us? In this hymn to walking, neurosc Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill. It defines us as a species. It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other without thinking – yet how many of us know how we do that, or appreciate the advantages it gives us? In this hymn to walking, neuroscientist Shane O’Mara invites us to marvel at the benefits it confers on our bodies and minds. In Praise of Walking celebrates this miraculous ability. Incredibly, it is a skill that has its evolutionary origins millions of years ago, under the sea. And the latest research is only now revealing how the brain and nervous system performs the mechanical magic of balancing, navigating a crowded city, or running our inner GPS system. Walking is good for our muscles and posture; it helps to protect and repair organs, and can slow or turn back the ageing of our brains. With our minds in motion we think more creatively, our mood improves and stress levels fall. Walking together to achieve a shared purpose is also a social glue that has contributed to our survival as a species. As our lives become increasingly sedentary, we risk all this. We must start walking again, whether it’s up a mountain, down to the park, or simply to school and work. We, and our societies, will be better for it. SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE WEEK AGreatRead and ArgosyBooks BOOK OF THE MONTH


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Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill. It defines us as a species. It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other without thinking – yet how many of us know how we do that, or appreciate the advantages it gives us? In this hymn to walking, neurosc Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill. It defines us as a species. It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other without thinking – yet how many of us know how we do that, or appreciate the advantages it gives us? In this hymn to walking, neuroscientist Shane O’Mara invites us to marvel at the benefits it confers on our bodies and minds. In Praise of Walking celebrates this miraculous ability. Incredibly, it is a skill that has its evolutionary origins millions of years ago, under the sea. And the latest research is only now revealing how the brain and nervous system performs the mechanical magic of balancing, navigating a crowded city, or running our inner GPS system. Walking is good for our muscles and posture; it helps to protect and repair organs, and can slow or turn back the ageing of our brains. With our minds in motion we think more creatively, our mood improves and stress levels fall. Walking together to achieve a shared purpose is also a social glue that has contributed to our survival as a species. As our lives become increasingly sedentary, we risk all this. We must start walking again, whether it’s up a mountain, down to the park, or simply to school and work. We, and our societies, will be better for it. SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE WEEK AGreatRead and ArgosyBooks BOOK OF THE MONTH

30 review for In Praise of Walking: The new science of how we walk and why it’s good for us

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    This was a tricky book to rate. Firstly, I wanted to note that I listened to the Audible version of this, so parts of my review will mention the narrator as well. I was quite looking forward to this book, having recently discovered the joys of going for long walks in order to try and improve my physical and mental health. The book turned out to be a bit drier than I thought it would be, although it covers a range of really interesting subjects from Neurology, to social engagement, to evolutionary This was a tricky book to rate. Firstly, I wanted to note that I listened to the Audible version of this, so parts of my review will mention the narrator as well. I was quite looking forward to this book, having recently discovered the joys of going for long walks in order to try and improve my physical and mental health. The book turned out to be a bit drier than I thought it would be, although it covers a range of really interesting subjects from Neurology, to social engagement, to evolutionary biology, and more. For parts of the first hour of the audiobook I had to keep reminding myself that the narrator was an actual person as he did, sometimes, sound like one of those text-to-voice creations. He improved as the book went on but, while his voice is pleasant enough, his style didn't manage to keep me fully engaged all the time. I would have liked a little more about walking and little less about some of the other subjects but I can see why these were included, to give us a whole overview of what happens to us and others when we walk. However, to completely contradict what I just said, I felt he could have done a deeper dive into these connected subjects and I probably would have enjoyed that more because they are fascinating in themselves. So maybe a book including either more information on walking or a load more science would have been cool, but this book sat between those two things, and therefore didn't really scratch the itch that this book created for me. I'd have given this 3.5 if I could, because its still fairly good, and should appeal to a broad range of people.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Olivia O'Leary

    Two stars for the sheer amount of research and information that went into this book. However, for a book labelled as popular science, it really is hard work. For readers with no background in science, I think this book may not be very accessible. This defeats the purpose of the popular science genre. The writer's style is very rambling and overly wordy. I had to force myself to finish. The moral of the book is: walk more. I really hoped to be able to recommend this book to friends and family but Two stars for the sheer amount of research and information that went into this book. However, for a book labelled as popular science, it really is hard work. For readers with no background in science, I think this book may not be very accessible. This defeats the purpose of the popular science genre. The writer's style is very rambling and overly wordy. I had to force myself to finish. The moral of the book is: walk more. I really hoped to be able to recommend this book to friends and family but, I'm sorry, I just can't.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    3.5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I always knew I liked to walk. Now I know why!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna Craig

    Although it was a bit slow in some places (much like a good walk), I found this book to be an utter delight. The author explains how humans evolved to be upright walkers, and how that skill allowed us to advance beyond other species. In addition, the book addresses the many impacts of walking on our health, mental wellness, and even task success. Also fascinating were the chapters on communities and how they benefit from citizens who walk. City planning for increased walking was addressed. I was Although it was a bit slow in some places (much like a good walk), I found this book to be an utter delight. The author explains how humans evolved to be upright walkers, and how that skill allowed us to advance beyond other species. In addition, the book addresses the many impacts of walking on our health, mental wellness, and even task success. Also fascinating were the chapters on communities and how they benefit from citizens who walk. City planning for increased walking was addressed. I was hoping for a book that would encourage me to walk more, and this book did the trick.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I have read books on meditative walking, walking for health, pilgrimage, and hiking. They have been authored by spiritualists, priests, weight loss proponents, comediennes, and every day people. This may be the first book about walking I've read by a professor of brain research. In Praise of Walking is filled with well supported arguments for why we should all be walking, based primarily on the impact of walking on the brain. The interaction between brain and body is strengthened by navigating a I have read books on meditative walking, walking for health, pilgrimage, and hiking. They have been authored by spiritualists, priests, weight loss proponents, comediennes, and every day people. This may be the first book about walking I've read by a professor of brain research. In Praise of Walking is filled with well supported arguments for why we should all be walking, based primarily on the impact of walking on the brain. The interaction between brain and body is strengthened by navigating a space, moving our bodies, reacting to stimulus, and simultaneously allowing the cognitive parts of our brain wonder into creative ventures or solve problems that have been crowding our thoughts. As a species, O'Mara argues we are made to walk. Walk far. Walk fast. Walk alone. Walk in small cohorts. Walk in large groups. In the city. By the sea. In the woods. Always, humans are meant to be afoot. "Furthermore, we first colonised the planet by walking in small migratory groups - at its core our walking is social." We need to move as units, talking and bonding and showing solidarity as we go. Walking can help us solve problems, bond with others, become more creative, and improve our mood. Walking is such a critical part of our cognitive and psychological health that it is amazing folks can survive without walking regularly. And, indeed, the impact of not walking on our physical bodies has almost become common knowledge, leading to fitbits and step counters built into our smart phones. We should walk with our coworkers to talk out problems and brainstorm solutions. We should walk with families and friends to strengthen social bonds. We should walk alone to allow for mind-wondering. "But mind-wandering is not mere idleness or time-wasting, at least by the common understanding of the term: rather, it is a necessary part of mental housekeeping, allowing us to integrate our past, present and future, interrogate our social lives, and create a large-scale personal narrative." Without mind-wandering we cannot know ourselves. And walking is a pathway to mind-wandering, and thus a gateway to self-knowledge. That is a lot of potential benefit from one activity that is free and available to almost all people all over the world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jef Sneider

    As an avid walker, and previously a runner or jogger, I pay attention to the literature on exercise. We all know that walking is good for us. In fact, almost any kind of exercise that does not involve smashing into other people is healthy, but how many of us can prove it and cite references? Shane O'Mara delves into the science behind what we think we all know. He covers a chapter on how walking is even possible. How do we keep our balance, and how do we adjust for rough terrains, uneven surfaces As an avid walker, and previously a runner or jogger, I pay attention to the literature on exercise. We all know that walking is good for us. In fact, almost any kind of exercise that does not involve smashing into other people is healthy, but how many of us can prove it and cite references? Shane O'Mara delves into the science behind what we think we all know. He covers a chapter on how walking is even possible. How do we keep our balance, and how do we adjust for rough terrains, uneven surfaces, the deck of a ship or even walking in an earthquake? How does the brain manage walking, and how does walking, from babyhood onward, give us advantages as individuals and a species. O'Mara looks at where we walk and where we can walk - like cities. How can a city be walkable, and how can it be made more walkable? Some space given to the joy of walking, especially walking outside in nature, and the effect walking has on creativity. Just documenting this effect requires some creativity itself, and the researchers trying to understand how that "ahah" moment occurs walking to work are very creative in setting up their experiments. While the experiments are probably tainted by WEIRD participants (Western and Educated from Industrialized, Rich and Democratic countries) there is some fun in trying to follow the proofs. I was actually hoping for a more spiritual exploration of walking - but that will be found in another book for another read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth De

    This book irritated me to no end after the first chapter which ended with a remark upon how the obesity rate in different countries was best predicted by the difference in the number of steps taken per day by women and men. We know that in many countries women are confined to the house. And this makes men fatter too? Poetic justice, and worth devoting a whole chapter to. But it ended with that remark and that was also the end of the chapter. And it went downhill from there. No attention at all t This book irritated me to no end after the first chapter which ended with a remark upon how the obesity rate in different countries was best predicted by the difference in the number of steps taken per day by women and men. We know that in many countries women are confined to the house. And this makes men fatter too? Poetic justice, and worth devoting a whole chapter to. But it ended with that remark and that was also the end of the chapter. And it went downhill from there. No attention at all to the specific problems one half of the population has to deal with when wanting to enjoy a walk, from catcalling to assault. So much attention in the book to ‘safety’, which to him means shielding walkways from motorized traffic, but nothing about safety for women, such as providing lighting under underpasses. He praises city parks like Central Park in New York, but not a word about... Need I go on? This whole book is a nice illustration of how detrimental to science it is when that field is reserved to men only, as it has been for the longest time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pratley

    This is more of a science book than an entertaining read about the pleasures of walking. What the book does reveal is that walking is really good for our bodies, minds & even our soul no matter how old or young we happen to be. Walking it reveals is one of the most important human traits which separates us from so many other creatures in quite profound ways. If you are not walking enough & of an analytical bent then this is the book for you. It could lead you towards a healthier & happier life. This is more of a science book than an entertaining read about the pleasures of walking. What the book does reveal is that walking is really good for our bodies, minds & even our soul no matter how old or young we happen to be. Walking it reveals is one of the most important human traits which separates us from so many other creatures in quite profound ways. If you are not walking enough & of an analytical bent then this is the book for you. It could lead you towards a healthier & happier life. It might also help you find out much more about local area & provide you with a good excuse to make new friends.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annaick

    Found this really tedious and perhaps it was just the style of the author but the data presentation seemed quite tenuous at times.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    A short and engaging little book on the various benefits walking has to offer - in more diverse areas of human life than I would have considered. Why isn't walking more common? How did we get so sedentary, particularly in developed Western nations? The benefits proposed - with varying levels of evidence - vary from aiding our sociability (and development in infants as they learn to walk), to creativity, to psychological well-being and perhaps unsurprisingly physical health. Interestingly, injury i A short and engaging little book on the various benefits walking has to offer - in more diverse areas of human life than I would have considered. Why isn't walking more common? How did we get so sedentary, particularly in developed Western nations? The benefits proposed - with varying levels of evidence - vary from aiding our sociability (and development in infants as they learn to walk), to creativity, to psychological well-being and perhaps unsurprisingly physical health. Interestingly, injury in runners and joggers weakly correlates to time and intensity of activity - not so in walkers! Those who walk a few minutes get injured from it as much as the most hardcore pilgrim or hiker. All written from a psychological/neuroscientific point of view - which has its benefits and weaknesses. What good is this approach if you don't care about neuroscience? It would be interesting to have a more free-form, or emotional, or artistic expression of walking's benefit to parallel the scientific or evidence based which predominates in this book. But that was not the author's background and they made it clear they weren't going down that route. Interesting. Really did make me want to walk more, so it clearly can't have been that dreadful

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    A slim volume that seems lightweight at first, dedicated to praising something that (in my biased mind) anybody with any sense should already be doing. O'Mara digs a little deeper, however, providing a clear guide to a series of studies that suggest the mechanisms by which walking benefits body, brain, mood, and creativity. It could just be my confirmation bias talking, but this clarifies the benefits I always felt i was getting out of walking. I'm also profoundly glad we now live in a city that A slim volume that seems lightweight at first, dedicated to praising something that (in my biased mind) anybody with any sense should already be doing. O'Mara digs a little deeper, however, providing a clear guide to a series of studies that suggest the mechanisms by which walking benefits body, brain, mood, and creativity. It could just be my confirmation bias talking, but this clarifies the benefits I always felt i was getting out of walking. I'm also profoundly glad we now live in a city that is built for walkers, and that the best path to my local grocery and library runs through a forest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Iona Stewart

    I had high expectations of this book which, unfortunately, were unfulfilled. I wasn’t able to finish it, partly due to having to return it to the library before I had got through it, partly because what I did manage to read was so boring, one long chapter on HOW to walk being practically, or should I say totally, incomprehensible, to me at any rate. There were promising chapters, to judge from their titles, - “Walking the City”, “Creative Walking” and “Social Walking”. I should probably have skipp I had high expectations of this book which, unfortunately, were unfulfilled. I wasn’t able to finish it, partly due to having to return it to the library before I had got through it, partly because what I did manage to read was so boring, one long chapter on HOW to walk being practically, or should I say totally, incomprehensible, to me at any rate. There were promising chapters, to judge from their titles, - “Walking the City”, “Creative Walking” and “Social Walking”. I should probably have skipped trying to get through the “how to walk” chapter to get to these other chapters, but I’m not good at skipping. Potential readers are hereby forewarned so they don’t make the same mistake as I did. As it is, sadly, I can’t recommend the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Take home message: GO WALK IN NATURE Lots of scientific evidence to support walking, however quality of the research was not necessarily discussed for each article briefly summarized. This book is for those who are interested in science- lots of in depth brain anatomy discussions. Fascinating for me (I’m a neuro nerd) but maybe not for those looking for a lighthearted discussion on the benefits of walking and movement.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    Sorry, I was hoping to really like this book but I just didn’t find it all that interesting. Boring, is actually the word I would use, and I feel like I normally have a pretty high tolerance for that. The last two chapters, titled Creative Walking and Social Walking were the best part part of the book, in my humble opinion.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Rybin

    DNF at 35%. Simultaneously really interesting and really boring.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bromham

    This is a wide-ranging exploration of walking and its effect on our physical and mental health. The later chapters on mood, creativity and social interaction are the most successful, in my opinion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    DNF. I don't know if it was me or the book, but I just couldn't connect with this one. I usually find scientific studies like this fascinating, but this seemed too dry and dull to me. The first half of the book was about the mechanics of walking. I was hoping for more about why we walk, the philosophy of walking. The second half may delve into it, but I am not going there. I am also not rating it. I received this book free from W.W. Norton & Company in exchange for an honest review, which I canno DNF. I don't know if it was me or the book, but I just couldn't connect with this one. I usually find scientific studies like this fascinating, but this seemed too dry and dull to me. The first half of the book was about the mechanics of walking. I was hoping for more about why we walk, the philosophy of walking. The second half may delve into it, but I am not going there. I am also not rating it. I received this book free from W.W. Norton & Company in exchange for an honest review, which I cannot give it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I enjoy walking, so this book seemed a good fit for me. The first 10% of the book is very thorough, going through the importance of walking from a neuroscience perspective, and I did wonder at this point what else he could find to say about walking: whether the rest was just going to be filler content. I was glad to discover that I was wrong. Moving from the neuroscience in the first 10% he moves into a wide range of other areas: genetics, developmental biology, bipedal adaption, how we learn to w I enjoy walking, so this book seemed a good fit for me. The first 10% of the book is very thorough, going through the importance of walking from a neuroscience perspective, and I did wonder at this point what else he could find to say about walking: whether the rest was just going to be filler content. I was glad to discover that I was wrong. Moving from the neuroscience in the first 10% he moves into a wide range of other areas: genetics, developmental biology, bipedal adaption, how we learn to walk, how walking works (the complex brain systems involved), the brains mapping system, urban planning, walking in nature and creativity in walking. This book is well written and easy to read - using sciencific experiments frequently to illustrate his point, and has case studies from all over the world. An interesting read about something that we all do (and probably should do more of!)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elephas

    I didn’t read Notes. It’s a good book..makes me want to walk even more and also more informed on what walking does to my body/mood. Some parts are abit repetitive. I noted that there is a lot of survey, analysis being explored around the world on the benefit of walking and what it does, how it effect. I Guess that is part of the gist of the book though I get bored when that portion is being described. Of this book, I appreciate the reiteration to make our villages, towns,cities a safe environmen I didn’t read Notes. It’s a good book..makes me want to walk even more and also more informed on what walking does to my body/mood. Some parts are abit repetitive. I noted that there is a lot of survey, analysis being explored around the world on the benefit of walking and what it does, how it effect. I Guess that is part of the gist of the book though I get bored when that portion is being described. Of this book, I appreciate the reiteration to make our villages, towns,cities a safe environment to walk and also accessibility to walk. I been to few places and it is so hard to cross the road I wonder why the city planner did not consider overhead bridge for pedestrian. Are we not people who can walk from left to right? Do we need to sit in a car to go from left to right? So Yes, I agree that Psychologists , neuroscientists should be part of city planning..whatever can be beneficial to mankind health; physical or mental.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dessylyly

    It did get a bit too into depth about how walking works and how it differentiates us from other species, etc. — interesting but not what I was after when I bought it. Audible narrator had a nice voice but the textbook delivery didn’t motivate me to ditch the bus I take to the station. Most memorable bit was how there’s passivity in using transport & Keats’ paean to walking at night in the city.

  22. 5 out of 5

    D'face

    I was somewhat disappointed. It could have been better edited with areas of repetitive text and mixed thoughts brought together. The science is not new and not particularly interesting I think. Why is it useful to know in which part of the brain a certain action is controlled? He obviously has a much better sense of direction than I do.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Janelle Bailey

    82: In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration by Shane O'Mara I saw a reference to this book and O'Mara's ideas somewhere else earlier this year (I no longer remember where/when, exactly) and was prompted to order and then read the book. I have tried to figure out also what compelled me to read it, as I am an avid walker and have long been, and while I have gotten out of the habit at times, either due to season--am I a fair weather walker? Maybe--or other demands, I still understand compl 82: In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration by Shane O'Mara I saw a reference to this book and O'Mara's ideas somewhere else earlier this year (I no longer remember where/when, exactly) and was prompted to order and then read the book. I have tried to figure out also what compelled me to read it, as I am an avid walker and have long been, and while I have gotten out of the habit at times, either due to season--am I a fair weather walker? Maybe--or other demands, I still understand completely all of the ways in which I feel better about life when I do, daily, walk, and occasionally--say on weekends--for even longer. I feel better in body, mind, and spirit...and so keep up that habit as best I can. That said, I'm not certain what I wanted from this book. Confirmation of what I already knew? Directions for improvement? A magical formula of the right amount for my "person" per day to epitomize all of the valuable effects? Recommendations for the right outerwear for walking through a Wisconsin winter? What? I'm really not sure. But I didn't really get any of those answered or addressed in satisfying form. I found that I was not actually all that interested in the scientific explanations O'Mara provided for, say, our evolution into a walking species--a number of reasons--including the ability to move things, then, from place A to place B with our hands (vs. crawling on four "legs"). But I'm still thinking about that now, to be honest...and how valuable it is that "someone" figured that out and that we all now, as humans, just do it...quite naturally. Although to that same issue, as much time (the entire book) as O'Mara devotes to the value of and importance of walking (in all the ways I already knew), he never provided satisfactory option for any (and there are many) who are missing limbs and/or wheelchair-bound and how they are to gain the same valued mechanical movement--how to trigger all of the same scientific benefits, of the physical movement, of the thinking opportunity, of the hormonal kick-ins for those who are physically unable to "walk." I guess he wasn't required to present that...but I felt it was an oversight that excluded a large portion of the population from learning or benefitting from the research he presented. I do not dismiss them in my thinking about what I "get" from walking that I wish for there to be means for those unable to physically walk to also and otherwise gain. And I think I expected him to consider that. Otherwise this book does a lot of what I do see as confirmation and affirmation of the fact that walking is good for me, good for us. I did appreciate and enjoy O'Mara's many references to those who preceded us, thinkers and poets and writers I admire, Kierkegard and Thoreau and Wordsworth and Steinbeck, as some, and what they'd said about walking and its importance and value in their own lives. And maybe a non-walker will find motivation and inspiration in this book to get up and get moving, to see what they have not and consider its value and merit as spoken by someone else, an expert of the learning at least, who is telling them all the ways in which that would be good for them. But it feels like it might to them, as it does to my teenaged daughter when this mom says, "Come on! Go for a walk with me" like O'Mara is asking them to first read his book and then be more compelled to get up and move. I'm not sure that works! But...do just walk if you are able. It does do one's body and mind and spirit SO MUCH GOOD! O'Mara says so, too!

  24. 4 out of 5

    James

    I heard this author on a podcast and found him engaging, which is why I read this in the first place. But to my disappointment I found the writing style a real slog, and while he was careful to stick to the evidence, it was too abstract and was crying out for some more real examples. This was a fairly short book, but even then it didn't feel particularly lean, as demonstrated by the following sentence: "The better you are at walking without falling, the greater the distance you can actually walk, I heard this author on a podcast and found him engaging, which is why I read this in the first place. But to my disappointment I found the writing style a real slog, and while he was careful to stick to the evidence, it was too abstract and was crying out for some more real examples. This was a fairly short book, but even then it didn't feel particularly lean, as demonstrated by the following sentence: "The better you are at walking without falling, the greater the distance you can actually walk, and the less likely it is you will fall." At first I wondered if I had missed some context, but the third clause is just a restatement of the first. Rarely was the writing quite this clunky, but he had a few habits that jarred, such as not including 'and' at the end of lists in sentences, statements, thoughts. There was also a lot of 'we' and 'let's look' when I would have been perfectly happy to feel less involved, but more interested. There were interesting findings, and it was based on evidence rather than obvious bias. I found it intriguing that we have parts of the brain that only fire when we are in a particular location, and despite the scientific names I could follow what O'Mara was saying, but I did have to concentrate and reread some parts to take it in. It seems the highlights were all in the podcast I heard though, as I can recall more nuggets from that than were completely new to me in the book, such as the heart health of certain Amazonian tribes being better than the general Western population. There were too few times where he would investigate specifics though. Don't just give me the concept of a walkable city, talk about a few of the desirable features as you stroll around one of the good ones. Find a walking group and ask the elderly what they like about it, not just suggest it. The book was in a middle ground that stuck to evidence in the main rather than subjectivity, but stripped out some of the technical language, and that meant you could follow it, but only if you concentrated, as there wasn't enough of the 'popular' science element. I would be surprised if people read this in long bursts, and I didn't find it engaging enough. The discussion on mild forms of depression also seemed to lack the scientific basis that the majority of the book kept to, with much more supposition. True to its name, every positive was accentuated, with even minor findings which showed walking might improve some aspect of a healthy mind or body included. Again, with the focus on evidence this hinted at a bias on the part of the author, in what appeared to be a serious work. Without any really difficult language, it was still hard to find much pleasure in reading this, and it was a real let down. The number of sources and the work involved makes me feel bad about it, but I can't give this more than 2 stars.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tim Atkinson

    The praise heaped here on that most basic form of human motion is anything but faint. The author doesn’t mince his words. Walking is “the simple, life-enhancing, health-building prescription we all need...” “We need to make walking a natural, habitual part of our everyday lives,” he says. “Although walking arises from our deep, evolutionary past, it is our future too...” Turns out to be good for so many different reasons. Not only does it make us fitter, it makes us cleverer. Maybe. But there is a The praise heaped here on that most basic form of human motion is anything but faint. The author doesn’t mince his words. Walking is “the simple, life-enhancing, health-building prescription we all need...” “We need to make walking a natural, habitual part of our everyday lives,” he says. “Although walking arises from our deep, evolutionary past, it is our future too...” Turns out to be good for so many different reasons. Not only does it make us fitter, it makes us cleverer. Maybe. But there is an increasing body of evidence pointing towards what O’Mara calls ‘mobile cognition’ - the idea that moving, and especially walking, rather than sitting leads to better thinking. None of which is new, of course. As the author says, this kind of thing has been happening for thousands of years, since the perpataeia of Athens. And Wordsworth, Nietzsche, Russell and others all testify to the beneficial effects walking has on thinking. Musicians have probably known all this for years. Even if they sit to play, most musicians stand to practise. There are entire orchestras which eschew chairs for all but a few players! And, of course, there’s someone - the conductor, the person in overall creative charge, who shapes the creative endeavour and imposes her own artistic ideas on the other performers - who stands the whole time. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that so many conductors are so healthy, long-lived and professionally active often decades after others have retired? Movement even affects how we perceive the passing of time. Psychological units of time are frequently at odds with chronological time: that much is obvious. And as O’Mara says: “a three-hour journey may feel like it passes in no time” in the open country on a sunny day. But “a three-hour journey on a jammed motorway will certainly feel longer.” “We have evolved to walk together,” says O’Mara, adding that “our relationship with the act of walking is one that stretches back into deep time.” (p.166)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mirko Salaris

    Overall, this has not been a good book for me and I wouldn't suggest this reading. I don't feel like taking the time for a proper review, so I'll just leave here some notes I've jotted down during my reading: - interesting content but laid out in a messy way. Not having the subchapters is a style choice, but here you really couldn't even try to define subchapters. On multiple occasions, you are just left to wonder what point is the author trying to make in the last few paragraphs; - it looks like Overall, this has not been a good book for me and I wouldn't suggest this reading. I don't feel like taking the time for a proper review, so I'll just leave here some notes I've jotted down during my reading: - interesting content but laid out in a messy way. Not having the subchapters is a style choice, but here you really couldn't even try to define subchapters. On multiple occasions, you are just left to wonder what point is the author trying to make in the last few paragraphs; - it looks like this book has been written without an editorial process of revision. Sometimes punctuation seems odd, sometimes entire paragraphs should be re-written or put in another order. Also, there are a few typos here and there, more than one would expect; - chapters are poorly connected. Don't take me wrong: there is no need to "connect" chapters, that's why the division is there in the first place, but it's a common practice to somewhat introduce the next chapter in the context in the one that precedes it. However, you need to do it in a judicious way, and it's not the case in this book; - while some content is directly related to walking, many points are actually about "physical activity", of any kind, and its contrast with a sedentary lifestyle. Most of the time, the author clearly states that he is talking about aerobic exercise in general, but the overall exposure is always tweaked to make walking stand out, even when there's nothing peculiar about walking itself. - the book contains out-of-context irony, most of the times neither funny nor witty; - although most metaphors are good and helpful, some are very bad and confusing and it would have been better to omit them entirely;

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I had hoped that this would be the book to get me out and moving, but it's so chock-full of science that I had a really hard time reading it. I feel that this book should have been printed in two colors of ink: one for the interesting parts and the encouraging parts, and another for the excessively detailed, boring brain-research parts, so I could know which to skip or skim through. Popular science it isn't. Too much focus on exactly which tiny parts of the brain are involved in exactly which pa I had hoped that this would be the book to get me out and moving, but it's so chock-full of science that I had a really hard time reading it. I feel that this book should have been printed in two colors of ink: one for the interesting parts and the encouraging parts, and another for the excessively detailed, boring brain-research parts, so I could know which to skip or skim through. Popular science it isn't. Too much focus on exactly which tiny parts of the brain are involved in exactly which parts of the operation of walking. There are only 183 pages of actual text, 24 pages of notes and a 6-page index. Chapters are: Why walking is good for you; Walking out of Africa; How to walk: the mechanics; How to walk: where are you going?; Walking the city; A balm for the body and brain; Creative walking; Social walking. Yes, walking helps creativity, health, and knowing the city or location you choose to walk in. His style is okay when he's talking about the benefits of walking. As a professor of experimental brain research, he should have had a co-author or editor to bolster that part and maybe tone down the science a bit. It seems to me that the Afterword covers it all in almost enough detail. Read that. How ancestral humans became bipedal; learning the city by walking it; how we individually learned to walk; walking allows hands-free locomotion so we can carry things; walking improves your mood. "Walking enhances every aspect of our social, psychological and neural-functioning. It is the simple, life-enhancing, health-building prescription we all need, one that we should take in regular doses."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Burke

    At only 180 pages, this is a relatively short book, but there's meat in it nonetheless. The core question is "Why is walking good for you?", and across a number of ways walking can be good for you (physical and mental health, creativity, better urban living, even better social contact), it considers the benefits of walking, then some experiments which back this up, and finally delves into the neuroscience behind why this is the case. The latter is worth being aware of before reading I think - no At only 180 pages, this is a relatively short book, but there's meat in it nonetheless. The core question is "Why is walking good for you?", and across a number of ways walking can be good for you (physical and mental health, creativity, better urban living, even better social contact), it considers the benefits of walking, then some experiments which back this up, and finally delves into the neuroscience behind why this is the case. The latter is worth being aware of before reading I think - no matter how you word it, neuroscience is complicated. The human brain is the only organ we know of which attempts to understand itself, but that's not to say that all human brains are equally up to the task! As each section goes into more detail explaining its conclusions and its science, it's probable various readers will reach (as I did) differing plateaux of understanding. There are interesting easy wins to be had - explaining why you often stand up to walk around while talking on your mobile, why a walk in the woods can be better than a gym session, or why being part of a group of fans streaming away from a stadium is actually good for you for example. But neuroscience is bloody complicated stuff, and while the author, a Professor of Experimental Brain Research, is at home in this area, how much the reader takes away will depend to an extent on how much they can keep up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    Perhaps it's because I had such high expectations of this book, that felt a little disappointed at the end. The author, excuse the pun, walks us through the multiple benefits of walking. He briefly describes our origins in Africa and eventually populating nearly all our planet. As a neuroscientist he writes a detailed, and very informative understanding how incredible our brain is, in enabling us to walk, often without conscious thought. Indeed the process of walking itself aids our creativity, Perhaps it's because I had such high expectations of this book, that felt a little disappointed at the end. The author, excuse the pun, walks us through the multiple benefits of walking. He briefly describes our origins in Africa and eventually populating nearly all our planet. As a neuroscientist he writes a detailed, and very informative understanding how incredible our brain is, in enabling us to walk, often without conscious thought. Indeed the process of walking itself aids our creativity, positively affects our mood, and physical and mental health. He describes the great social benefits of walking, and the need to design our urban landscape to make walking pleasurable, and safe. I enjoyed the read and largely agreed with his views. I learned a lot about the mechanics of walking and our brains navigation systems. I was disappointed that there was little consideration of many forms of walking, that I would argue affect our mind, such as solitary walking and meditation, long distance walking, and the spiritual feelings that walking in great natural environments can create. For me these are experiences that will remain with me forever. Here, a neuroscientist,'s view disappointingly is missing. Having said all this, I have passed my book to a good friend and already recommended it to others.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    This book I started ages ago (when I first got it out of the library I think), put it down and then didn't restart it until just now. This book is all about walking, so why we evolved to do it, why babies learn how to walk even though crawling is much more efficient and stable (at first) and how it can have such an effect on our physical and mental health.  I found this book fairly interesting in parts and fairly boring in others. I feel like too much of the book was spent on the evolution of wal This book I started ages ago (when I first got it out of the library I think), put it down and then didn't restart it until just now. This book is all about walking, so why we evolved to do it, why babies learn how to walk even though crawling is much more efficient and stable (at first) and how it can have such an effect on our physical and mental health.  I found this book fairly interesting in parts and fairly boring in others. I feel like too much of the book was spent on the evolution of walking, why we evolved to do it and what other animals do instead. I didn't mind this part, but it could have been a lot shorter. I think it was the bit I got stuck on last time I picked this book up and it was nearly the bit which tripped me up this time.  However, when the author started to talk about the effect of walking on ourselves, and how it was not a new thing, people have done it throughout history and made a note of it, this book got extremely interesting. I loved reading the different studies about how walking or even standing can rejig our brains and help the creative/problem-solving process. It was so fascinating. I can no longer run anymore because of ankle issues but I try to walk as much as I can and I'm glad to see that I don't have to run to get the benefits.  This is definitely a book I want to come back to and would recommend.  4 stars! 

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