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If I would name the one thing which has made the biggest impact on my well-being over the last years, I would attribute it to walking. Walking is an important activity to me. I sprinkle out different walks throughout the day to stay sane, to be able to reflect and exercise my body.

Walking serves many purposes — exercise, leisure, a pinch of fresh air, I get to see new places, be out in nature, it allows time for reflect, and it keeps my body moving.

My walking life has mostly been an unstructured activity for me, I normally just go when I feel for it. But recently I’ve noticed a pattern to the way I structure walking, depending on the time of day. And I have wanted to strategize the way I use these walks to serve different purposes.

Walking throughout the day

The Morning Walk. The first walk of the day, I call the morning walk. It’s a quick 25-minute walk around the block, or the commuting walk to the office. The purpose is to get some activity directly in the morning to get awake. This walk is dedicated to new input. I use it to listen to audio books or podcasts. Getting high-quality input in the morning energizes me and is a great way to start the day.

The Gratitude Walk. At lunch time I need another walk for fresh air. I’m low on energy so a walk in one of town’s parks or along the banks of the Rhine river fuels me up for the afternoon. This walk is what I call the "gratitude" walk — I take in the scenery, reflect on my work, and get some alone time away from the bustle of the work. I do this walk without any earbuds or headphones, I don’t want input at this time — I need this space for reflection.

The Winding-Down Walk. In the evening I get out to go around the block for another walk. This is my "winding-down" walk, and I take it together with some music. It’s a great opportunity to let the mind wander a bit. It gives the space to form new ideas based on the input during the day.

In January I started noticing this inherent scheme, and in February I made it into a more rigid routine. My intention is to keep follow and building on it in March.