What makes ECO123 devote an entire edition to walking and why is the magazine organizing an event of a dozen different walks including a marathon at the end? It is the search for environmentally friendly energy and investing it sustainably. When you’re getting around on foot, it is easiest to understand what kind of energy is invested most efficiently in that most sustainable of all mobility concepts, and how and where and when. An ascent from the foot to the peak of a mountain, using your own feet and legs, your muscles and sinews and your rhythmic breathing etc. demonstrates impressively how much of your own physical energy is needed to make an ascent in a sustainable manner. What do hiking and economics have in common? The investment in a pair of good walking boots and into a long distance walk and the corresponding capital value ensure total success with a good all-round panorama.
If the investment is a success, a positive capital value should be achieved in the results. (ROI) If the capital value at the end of the walk is zero, the investment has paid for itself exactly within the estimated time frame. But who is prepared to draw the energy that is needed for a long walk from their own body, and to regard it as an investment in health and a good life? Walking is a demanding activity as a motor skill. It requires coordination and a sense of balance. While other mammals crawl around the world on all fours almost from birth, young humans need at least a year until they can move on two legs.
To cut the long story of humanity over several million years short, I would like to propose the thesis that humans have become steadily more intelligent in the course of their evolutionary history and not by chance. Those who walk can see more; they have their hands free for complex activities and they move so economically that they still have energy to spare, for example for a big brain. The brain accounts for only two percent of your total weight, but requires 20% of your energy. If we didn’t walk around the world on two legs in such a minimalist fashion, we would not be able to afford so much brain work. While we are walking and are involved in other forms of movement, such as cycling and swimming, the right half of the brain has to monitor the left half, and vice versa. Put simply, they are responsible for monitoring movements and processing perception. In the process, ideas and memories are filtered, sorted and recombined. And so, in the course of millions of years, walking has made us cleverer. Shouldn’t we starting preparing for a wonderful long-distance walk right away? And why not in Portugal? There are a dozen interesting, exciting long-distance walks: Vale do Côa, Terras do Xisto, Aldeias Históricas, Via Algarviana, Rota Vicentina and many others; including travel to Lisbon on the slow night train.
You can read more about it on ECO123.
Uwe Heitkamp, editor of ECO123