Thoughts While Walking

I maintain a blog for a friend and when updating his WordPress, realized that I  haven’t been posting on this blog as often as I’d like, so I decided to think about a topic or two on my lunchtime walk and blog about it when I get back to my desk.

Here goes:

The Quantified Self

Lately I’ve been using Map My Tracks on the iPhone to keep track of my effort, and it definitely is helpful in encouraging you to do a little more.

The quantified self is something I’ve become increasingly interested in and I guess this is literally a first step toward it.

Before my walk today I came across a story on Noom Walk for Android. I downloaded it, and used it for the first time. Noom Walk is a free app that acts as a pedometer, runs in the background, and doesn’t use GPS so it is more energy efficient than some other apps. I was curious how accurate it is and it showed me having taken 4100 steps over 1.68 miles (rule of thumb is just over 2000 for a mile). Will have to keep testing for accuracy.

I think the competitor in me comes out when seeing the aggregated results – one more tenth of a mile and I’ll have ten for the week, kind of thing. To date I’ve only been tracking the walks I take for exercise, but not recording the steps I take throughout the course of a normal day, that is where Noom Walk will come in.

If I stick with it, I think I’ll probably try Fitbit Flex. I looked at a few bands and devices and based on reviews, costs, and features, this one seems pretty solid.

Thinking About Walden

Last Saturday my daughter was in a chess tournament held at a local park. I brought my mi-fi, phone, and tablet, but apparently the park was in a dead-zone and I couldn’t get a steady connection.

I decided to read, opened my Kindle App, and scrolled through books I had pulled from the Guttenberg Project. Since I was at a park with a nature trail, I decided to read Thoreau’s Walden. As I read I found it a bit ironic that I was using an iPad, but it didn’t stop me. I got about halfway through Economy and took a walk along the nature trail.

I walked deeper into the trail, the background noise increased as the park bordered the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike. As I emerged from the woods the trail cornered at a billboard with explicit instructions not to climb on it or be severely fined. I turned around and walked back the way I came wondering what Thorough would have thought of this.

While walking today, as the sun shone and I began to sweat, I again thought of Thoreau’s writing about needs and that we as an entity require heat, which is maintained through food and clothing.

I was thinking how I’ve always felt better after exercising, more refreshed, more positive. We see the physical by-product of exercise in sweat, but we can only feel the mental benefit afterward if we’ve not distracted ourself while doing so.

It occurred to me that not enough of us disconnect during the day. Even while exercising, people are on the phone (I do start each walk by calling my wife to see how her day is going), listening to music, or doing any number of things that our devices allow as we walk, run, or bike (stationary hopefully).

I also realized, most people probably don’t even think about. Walden did. He not only thought deeply about it, but disconnected and truly considered life.

He stated that we have philosophy teachers, but have no philosophers.

Walden was first published in 1854, but this statement still stands.

Instead of considering life we argue morals in the arena of public opinion using 30 second sound-bites.

Connect and Disconnect

So while my two topics seem at odds with one another, I do think they are complimentary. Leverage technology to encourage good health and disconnect from your device distractions while performing physical tasks and allow your thoughts to drift and your mind to refresh. You may even want to consider life, the universe, everything!

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