This is an easy stroll. As easy as chewing a piece of cake. I am used to strenuous hikes. My usual physically challenging hikes involve toiling to the mountain peaks at insanely high altitude levels — where the force of gravity is weaker and the air is thinner.
Today, I am neither shooting for the clouds nor competing against time. I am taking it easy — not in a hurry. I am taking my time to absorb the beauty of the land down here while listening to hit songs from talented birds featuring gentle waves.
I can hear someone sending a vocal message to a friend’s home on a distant hill. Unfortunately, the intended recipient of this message is not at home. However, his wife assures the sender that the message will be relayed accordingly. In rural Rwanda, it is still common to hear villagers calling each other without the devices some of us can’t do without. Their calls are not private but they serve the purpose.
I am in Gacaca Sector, Musanze District. Earlier today, I traced the source of Mukungwa River and uncovered the mystery of the Twin Lakes. Once again, I tried fishing but I wasn’t patient enough to catch anything. I am considering giving this activity another shot. I have to erase memories of my futile fishing efforts. I know I can do it. All I need is a little patience. Next time, I will be able to catch what will end up on my dinner table. I am envisioning the day I will finally score some points in the fishing arena.
In the meantime, let me forget about fishing and keep walking. This leisure walk feels like interacting with nature. It feels good to be back to the land on which nature reigns supreme. In the words of Mary Davis, a walk in nature walks the soul back home.
I am not the only one walking here. Villagers are walking from one hill to another. This is how they run their errands. Credible studies have revealed the impact of regular walking in reducing the risk of a heart attack and stroke. Walking is also an effective weapon in the fight against diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, blood clots and constipation. In addition, walking prevents age-related dementia. On top of all that, the oldest form of exercising improves memory and combats the deterioration of brain tissues caused by old age. This simple but highly rewarding activity can be done by old people without stressing their delicate joints.
According to Brian Fulton, a renowned physiotherapist, our ancestors benefited tremendously when they started walking upright. They did a lot of walking and enjoyed sound health. Then came the industrial age and its ensuing revolution. Automobiles were invented and jobs that make us sit down all day were created. This new lifestyle is to blame for increased cases of soft tissue disorders and a plethora of other complications.
Another study conducted by the University of Stanford shows that regular walking increases our creative output by 60%. Researchers call this kind of creativity divergent thinking. Walking stimulates a free flow of ideas. Engaging in activities that allow our minds to wander empowers our innovative acumen.
I don’t walk regularly but I run almost every day. Running is more taxing but according to Dr. Matt Tanneberg, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, walking is as effective, if not more effective than running. I have tried both and roasted more calories while running but walking can serve others better depending on their age, level of fitness and specific goals, among other factors.
The author is on a tour of all 30 districts of Rwanda. His Musanze expedition is sponsored by The Peakspot Lodge, My Hill Ecolodge, Kingfisher Journeys, Volcano Residence, Musanze Caves Hotel, Migano Hotel, Cafe Crema, Ndaza Escape and Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel.