Related to that last thought is a subject dear to my heart. Ferris Jabr makes the case for walking above all other activities for doing our best work. He starts:
What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain.
And where as some physical activities require our focus, walking does not:
Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander—to overlay the world before us with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre.
And the end benefit is a worthy one:
Perhaps the most profound relationship between walking, thinking, and writing reveals itself at the end of a stroll, back at the desk. There, it becomes apparent that writing and walking are extremely similar feats, equal parts physical and mental.
There are a few other activities I can add to walking for my own life. Shovelling snow and chopping wood offer the same benefits, allowing my mind to be free while my hands are busy.
And this all fits very well with the idea of meditating productively. I have learned to take these moments to set my mind on a specific problem and come up with a plan. It’s important to also give yourself time to let your mind simply wander, to allow your subconscious to come up with solutions while you ponder other things. But both meditating productively and subconscious thinking benefit from walking.