Does the music you are listening to affect your walking style? Do you walk better with some people than others?
I walk a lot and often with an ipod plugged into my earphones. I’ve noticed that my walking style (pace, stride, etc.) are greatly influenced by the music track I am listening to. I have also been noticing that I walk better with some people than others, as if the rhythm of our movements was strengthening or hampering interpersonal chemistry. I was especially sensitive about this when I was dating. It added to the something does/doesn’t feel right feeling about the other person. If I am walking with someone, I try to match my walking characteristics to that of the other person, almost as a reflex, sometimes taking fast, smaller steps, and sometimes taking large, slower steps. But there is always a time when walking with someone is not smooth.
Personally, I have analyzed the origins of this behavior and it probably has something to do with the sense of rhythm programmed into me. Being a musician, counting the beats and perfectly maintaining gaps during improvisation is a skill that’s necessary, not just a good-to-have thing, especially in the mathematical progressions of Indian classical music, – as I’m told. After few years of practise, the task of measuring the beats and playing on-beat or off-beat becomes a task that’s relegated to one’s reflexes and my active brain is now focused exclusively on coming up with something to play next. So when I am walking with someone, or listening to music, I have this obsession of aligning my walking rhythm to the external rhythm that’s “given” to me. And if that doesn’t work, I get frustrated.
For example, last night I was listening to “With or Without You” (U2) while walking to the grocery store. I listen to that kind of music (i.e. western) on my regularly-irregular morning runs, and it works perfectly well because for every beat on U2′s drums, I have 2 steps of mine (1:2 ratio). Last night however, I was trying to match my walking to the music but those 3-something minutes were very uncomfortable because the beats were too slow no matter how large strides I took.
Then there are people who walk in a disorganized manner. Slow, fast, slow again, big steps, small steps…. what the hell! Obviously, we will never have a second date (unless they are terribly cute).
Maybe rhythmic walking could be used as a therapy: Just like watching a goldfish helps heart patients, walking in the rhythm of certain music might help people since it combines discipline and exercise. Coupled with synchronised breathing, I feel that rhythmic walking is a great way to make a trip to the grocery store really productive.