In rounding out what’s turned into Wellness Week on Health Populi, I’d like to share one last (for now) learning from 2011 – My Year of Health: what I’ll call the “Proustian joy” of a personalized iTunes playlist for daily walks.

In waking very early — in the dark this winter season — for my daily walk, music plays a key role in propelling my energy and waking up my body. After a few months of this regime, it’s become routine, but not a bore: instead, by refreshing my playlist, and learning about how to best organize it for optimal fitness, daily walks have become a must-do healthy stew of fun, meditation, energy-boost, and enjoyment.

First, the “Proustian” adjective: why evoke the author of Remembrance of Things Past? It’s because, instead of the sensual scent of Madeleine cookies evoking a memory of the palate, my music evokes aural memories of my life moments: growing up in Detroit and learning how to dance listening to that iconic label from Hitsville, USA, Motown; a dancing memory from the summer of 1977 in a dormitory room at the Cite internationale universitaire de Paris to Marvin Gaye’s cassette of I Want You; watching James Brown on Soul Train donning his robe following a slip-and-slide performance of Get Up Offa That Thing; sweating in 80s discos to the throbbing pulse of Dan Hartman’s Instant Replay.

These are all joyful memories for me, and my walks evoke that joy. It helps that the songs beats-per-minute (BPM) have been planned based on my learning from others who have come before who know about interval training and burning fat. One of my primers for this is Prevention’s Walk Off Weight, a thick bible of walking for health that I’ve found very practical.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  And since some of you have asked, here’s the playlist for January 2012…based on BPMs, you will get about 6,300 steps, about 2.5 miles’ worth, for a 45+ minute walk:

  1. Box Tops, Soul Deep
  2. Get Up, Technotronic
  3. Move This, Technotronic
  4. Instant Replay, Dan Hartman
  5. You & I, Rick James
  6. Boogie Man, KC & the Sunshine Band
  7. Fantastic Voyage, Lakeside
  8. Get Up Offa That Thing, James Brown
  9. Got to Give It Up, Marvin Gaye
  10. Stubborn Kind of Fellow, Marvin Gaye
  11. Hitchhike, Marvin Gaye

Now, go build your own Proustian Playlist. Make it fun, make it memorable, make it energetic, and you’ll make it healthy…