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The Method: A neighbourhood stroll that can change your brain

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If you’ve ever been mulling over a problem or stressing about a situation only to solve it while on a stroll, you will have experienced the power of walking.

But did you know that a new study suggests that a particular style of stroll could have the power to make you happier and feel more connected to the world around you?

It’s an exciting revelation that could have us rethinking the way we walk and adding more steps to our day to reap the benefits.

Take a walk with us around our R.Iconic neighbourhood as we explore this growing area of scientific discovery.

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Walk with childlike eyes

A recent study by the Memory and Aging Centre at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has found that looking at the world with childlike eyes while walking can make you happier.

To see if there was a link between awe and activity, the scientists divided 52 volunteers into two groups and asked one group to walk 15 minutes each day and the others to walk once a week but while ‘cultivating awe’.

What’s awe you ask? Virginia Sturm, an associate professor of neurology at UCSF explains: “Basically, we told them to try to go and walk somewhere new…since novelty helps to cultivate awe.”

The participants were told to look at the world around them with childlike eyes, rediscovering the world around them anew.

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In our neighbourhood that might mean watching as the light catches the water on the nearby Yarra River, or how the waves sound while strolling on Port Melbourne Beach.

At the end of the study the awe-walkers felt happier, less upset and more socially connected – recording bigger gains in wellbeing metrics over the control group. One of the most unusual outcomes? Selfies proffered after each walk found the faces of awe-walkers grew smaller in relation to the scenery around them!

Give it a try, hit the streets around R.Iconic and tag us in your local awe-walk selfie!

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Walking for creativity and to solve problems

Walking offers other pluses as well – apart from the obvious social connection and fitness benefits. In our R.Iconic neighbourhood this is always in full display – there are very few suburbs with as healthy, fit, active and friendly neighbours as the CBD South area. Hit the pavements and you’ll know what we mean!

But as well as these advantages, for many years artists, entrepreneurs and innovators have promoted the creative benefits of walking meetings, including the late Steve Jobs who said strolls with his team sparked his inventivenessand helped him solve problems.

And the science supports this. Breakthroughs – also known as eureka moments – occur when we’re not intensely focused on a problem, but when we are doing something else, allowing our subconscious to sort it out in the background.

It’s why problems are solved brushing your teeth, you get great ideas in the shower or untangle that niggling problem swimming laps in the pool (or maybe on the R.Iconic running track).

This great piece is worth a read as it brings together a lot of the research and scientific proof in one place and basically demonstrates how walking is a supercharged way to get creative

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Take the first step

Walking is the simplest, cheapest and easiest way to solve a lot of life’s problems and all it takes is making that first step.

Of course, living in a beautiful environment is extra incentive to go on a great walk. And around R.Iconic no matter the direction you follow, there are some great walks to be had. A walk score of 89 is further proof of this!

We can definitely recommend a stroll south, passing the gardens along Station Street (and maybe sneaking a coffee at Station Street Trading Co) to find yourself by beautiful Port Philip Bay where the foreshore path winds along the water taking you beyond Elwood.

If you set off to the north from R.Iconic you’ll shortly find yourself over by the Yarra River where you can admire some incredible yachts and walk on through to South Wharf’s bustling restaurant scene. You might also like to check out the Yarra River Trail, which follows the river all the way to Eltham!

For those nature lovers, you will definitely find something to be inspired by if you venture eastwards through Southbank and over to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Rolling hills, lush lawns and stunning floral displays – it’s a place to discover true tranquility.

For those wanting to step it up a notch, the smart folk at the Mayo Institute have even devised a walking program. Just remember to add awe!