Walking on Sunshine

alex mullen walking dog

Alex and I are in the process of interviewing for residencies this winter. It’s a busy time of the year, but we’ve enjoyed the chance to meet other applicants and experience medicine practiced outside our home institution.

I have missed our daily walks, however. We walk for 10-15 minutes down our neighborhood street with our 10-year-old pup, Leia. Most of the houses were built in the 1950s, and they’re each unique in character. There are tall trees in nearly every yard. We see all sorts of critters, from squirrels to frogs, and cats to cicadas. While Leia enjoys the smell-scape, we enjoy stretching our legs, looking up at the sky and seeing our neighbors.

I was happy to see this recent article in the New York Times about the benefits of even 10 minutes of walking on memory. I wanted to share it here, because we sometimes get questions about lifestyle modifications to improve memory. While we are not experts on the topic, speaking from personal experience, our daily walks have been helpful for putting life in perspective and improving our moods. And it looks like it helps with memory and learning too!

Leia loves the routine so much that we do it almost every day, no matter the weather. I’m also surprised at how easy it is to fit in a walk, even on busy days. I find myself looking forward to the walk especially on busy days!

Do you have a special routine that you feel helps your memory? We want to know!

(Alex: I’ve found walking to be a great tool for working through my thoughts on a thorny problem. Many renown thinkers have extolled the virtues of walking. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, is said to have claimed: “Only thoughts reached by walking have value … The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit.” Count Henry David Thoreau, who labeled the activity a “noble art,” as another ardent supporter: “The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise … but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.” I came across these lines in Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism, which I highly recommend.)

You can find a brief summary of other lifestyle habits Alex maintains for competitive memory here.