Earlier this year I glanced at my Fitbit stats and saw that I was walking less than usual. There were some reasons for this, but as always, the data itself functioned as a sort of reminder, a nudge in the right direction. I had a think about the main thing keeping me from writing and realised it was because I was working full-out writing my PhD.
Most of the second (rewrite)/redraft of my thesis was written in a little coffee shop in Delft (a small historic town in the south of Holland). Each morning I'd cycle to the cafe at 7:30, ready to start at 8am. I'd work for four hours and then cycle back home at 12. I'll write more about this particular workflow/pattern in a separate post, but suffice it for now to say that I had lots of time in the afternoons when I could be walking or finding more ways to be moving my body, but this wasn't happening.
When I tried to remedy this by going for more walks in the afternoon, I found I developed a strong antipathy to the time outdoors. It shouldn't have been that way. I was in the middle of nature, walking through nature preserves and forests close to home, but that apparently wasn't enough.
Podcasts and audiobooks offered a way through and round this problem. I took a bit of time to explore some different shows with regularly published episodes and I filled up my Audible queue with interesting books that I wouldn't otherwise read. It turns out that this was enough. (I feel like I've learnt this lesson in the past, albeit in slightly different circumstances. I guess some lessons don't stick as well.)
In case you're curious, four podcasts I still enjoy are:
1) The Frontline Club -- recordings of their live events in London. The quality is variable, but generally you learn something about a place or an issue that you hadn't considered (either ever, or for a very long while). Time well spent.
2) Invisibilia -- the first series was far better than the current one, but they're still almost always interesting and stimulating. The hosts discuss various aspects of psychology, behaviour and social activity.
3) Back to Work -- This might only make sense if you've been listening from the beginning, but Merlin Mann and co-host Dan Benjamin are an interesting pair to discuss technology, its role in our lives and a huge number of various connected issues.
4) Reveal -- this is connected with The Center for Investigative Reporting and each episode offers audio versions or discussions of major investigative reporting. Like with the Frontline Club, you learn a lot from this one. It's a little US-centric, but not exclusively so.
For Audible books, the sky is the limit. I listen to books at 1.25 or sometimes 1.5x speed (and podcasts at 1.5-2x speed), so even very long books can only take 12 or 13 hours to get through. That's one or two weeks of walks for a book you wouldn't otherwise have read. Get through a book or two every two weeks and you're reading a couple of dozen books a year.
Now when I think about whether I want to go for a walk, I am enthusiastic about going out. I'm happy not only to be moving, but also to be coming into content designed to inform and entertain. If you aren't moving as much as you feel like you might want, maybe see if you can add in some audio media to make the activity more pleasant.