I had been doing pushups and jumping jacks in an effort to exercise. I was keeping track of my progress in this blog, hoping to do it for a month. Then a friend commented that I wouldn't make it, suggesting that I walk more instead.
Now, I could have made it, I think, except that I think he was right about walking.
I have a lot of positive memories of walking. The time when I felt the most mentally rejuvenated was while interning at IBM Almeden. While there, I would take a walk every day. I wouldn't need to walk very far before I couldn't see the facility anymore. It was like I was in the middle of nowhere. I could walk there for hours. I also recall really liking New York, in large part because of the giant sidewalks, and also because of central park, which had extremely long walking paths. I also grew to love Menlo Park after I discovered how walkable it was, and how close it was to Stanford. More than once I walked from my apartment, across a cute little bike bridge, on to Stanford, on to the dish, and eventually back home.
I also recently wrote this post about how focussing causes me to tense up. And I've run some mental experiments since then. Tensing my muscles does help me think. It is kindof like having paper. It gives my mind a place to store things, somehow. If I don't tense, it is much more difficult to keep my mind on track.
Walking also seems to work in this way, though I'll need to try more. I find that it helps if the walking path is relatively wide and easy to navigate, so my mind isn't spending time trying to walk safely. This is why I love the wide sidewalks in New York.
It also seems helpful for thinking to move my hands around. I don't like to do this when people are watching, because it seems crazy, but again, I think my mind is using my body as extra working memory somehow.