Remember earlier this month I talked about taking it slow at the gym? Let’s just say three weeks out of surgery is still not the time to hit the YMCA…and definitely not the time to try an inspired jog or two. Part of my convalescence from UPJ surgery has been exercising patience for myself and my abilities. Today I had to turn down a two day bike ride from home to Santa Cruz….which sounds. So. Amazing. However, since I only actually started running this week – week six out of surgery – I recognized (with the help of Brian) that I’m probably not ready to tackle 80 miles on the bike.
What have I been doing instead of running for exercise? Well, after the expected period of moping and lethargy, I did eventually go places and walk around slowly. Museums. Renegade Craft Fairs. Flea Markets. Art Murmurs. Food truck events. And golly, going to those places made me tired. Like, need to fall in a puddle of person for an hour or two afterward tired.
Which I was feeling a little embarrassed about. Me? Tired after the Flea Market? Really? And then, I realized, it wasn’t just me. It was everyone I was with, too (because for the most part, I wasn’t hitting up these events solo). Seriously. A bunch of people, aged 25 – 75, were pooped after what really equated to slow walking.
A quick Google search told me this phenomenon wasn’t just predominantly happening in the Bay Area because heyo, according to Urban Dictionary there’s a term for this: Museum Fatigue. Defined as “The type of exhaustion you get from walking from place to place, stopping, thinking about what you are seeing, then continuing,” Museum Fatigue can happen to anyone, anywhere starting and stopping is happening.
However, though an unofficial name is nice, it’s not exactly helpful. What the heck is causing this Museum Fatigue? In other words…why is walking around slowly so damn exhausting?
Quora members suggest the reason is sauntering. Says one, “The way you typically walk in a museum is slow and unbalanced. Your legs have to keep you up without the aid of speed. It’s like taking a stroll with a beautiful woman: going nowhere in particular, yet keeping focused.” And the UK’s Guardian readers propose, “Standing (especially at pondering angles) puts uneven stress on muscles, tendons and joints. When walking at an even/regular pace, we constantly and rhythmically flex our legs in “natural” ways, which is less tiring.”
Clearly, communities worldwide have noticed the Museum Fatigue conundrum. One thing a name is good for is more Google action. Armed with nomenclature, I did a little more searching and found there is a good deal of recent studies looking at the museum fatigue, pondering if it stems from sensory overload, intellectual overload, movement, or all of the above. Yet, the research itself seems to always be tied to museums.
Whatever the reason we get a case of the sleeps after long slow walking, it’s clearly a source of some kind of energy exertion. Which means, it’s some sort of exercise! While I’m not normally someone to promote Paleo theory, one Paleo Coach wrote about the benefits of all types of walking. In
Meander, Mosey, Stroll and Saunter! the coach notes that hunter gatherers were buff because they were in constant motion of some kind. They were not necessarily chasing down cheetahs and living on the edge, but they were moving their bodies. As he points out,
“Walking is perhaps the one activity about which you can say that more is always better: some walking is better than none, and you really can’t walk too much unless it causes you to miss a lot of meals or PTA meetings. There is also no need to huff and puff. If you can’t hold a conversation while you walk, you are pushing yourself too hard. I’m not going to tell you exactly how much you should walk each week: just walk whenever you can, understanding that that means when you have time, not when you feel like it.”
This all fits into the theory of movement. Go. Move. Do. A little something is better than a little nothing. Exercise more.
Consensus: no idea why we’re getting museum fatigue for sure. But maybe we’ll have answers soon?