In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration

Norton. May 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780393652086. $25.95. SCI
Conventional wisdom holds that walking boosts the heart rate, aids digestion and metabolism, and strengthens muscles, but Irish neuroscientist and walking enthusiast O’Mara (neuroscience, Trinity Coll., Dublin; Why Torture Doesn’t Work) explains the science behind such assertions to reveal how walking enhances every aspect of our being, including mood, brain function, and thinking. O’Mara explores the full sweep of human walking: how it arose in our deep evolutionary past, how walking moved early humans across the world, how babies transition from crawling to walking, the brain’s GPS-like system that enables walking, and the crucial importance of walking-friendly urban environments. He also considers what famous writers and poets have had to say about the joys of walking and how it has aided their thinking and creativity. The main take-home lesson: humans are engineered for walking and should walk as much as possible.
VERDICT This eloquent tribute to walking moves seamlessly between neuroscience and literature and is perfectly pitched for nonspecialists who will no doubt be inspired to kick-start or amp up a walking program.

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