The happiness benefits of walking

The happiness benefits of walking

via the Atlantic by Arthur C Brooks

Last month, a survey by the travel industry found that a majority of Americans changed their vacation plans this summer because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. But not everyone canceled their vacations entirely; travel spending has been almost as high this summer as it was in the summer of 2019. Some would-be adventurers simply found ways to do the exotic things they’d planned to do overseas in less exotic places. One of my friends, for instance, went bungee jumping in North Carolina instead of Costa Rica.

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For my vacation, I did the opposite: I went with my family to a fairly exotic place to do a distinctly unexotic thing. I went to Spain and took a very quiet 100-mile walk.

To be more precise, I walked the Camino de Santiago, an ancient network of routes that leads to Galicia in the North of Spain, which has attracted travelers from around the world for more than a thousand years. It was the second time I’d made the weeklong pilgrimage, navigating through rural villages and over Roman roads to the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of Saint James the Apostle are believed to be held.

Many religious traditions involve pilgrimages, which are, according to the scholar Surinder Mohan Bhardwaj, “the physical traversing of some distance from home to the holy place,” motivated by sentiment or belief and undertaken as an act of devotion. In northern India, tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims (yatri in Sanskrit) walk from their homes to the holy city of Mathura each year. In Japan, people walk the 70-kilometer Kumano Kodō across the Kii Peninsula to three sacred Shinto temples.

The Camino de Santiago is the most famous pilgrimage in my own Catholic tradition and has attracted millions since it was established in the ninth century. It largely fell into disuse in the 20th century before becoming popular again in the 21st, partly thanks to the 2010 movie The Way, in which Martin Sheen’s character walks the Camino in an attempt to come to terms with his son’s death. The number of pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago more than doubled from 2009 to 2019.

Why do they do it? Keep reading the full & original article HERE