The fact that walking has gone from a basic human movement we perform to get from point A to point B to a form of exercise suggests that it is, in fact, being “engineered out of existence…” – Tom Vanderbilt.
I’ve heard walking described as America’s untrendiest growing trend. Walking has seemingly limitless benefits and very little to no downside. So are we walking enough? It’s hard to know without strapping pedometers to everyone, but the best analysis says, no. The technical definition of sedentary is someone who takes less than 5000 steps a day and the average American takes 5117 steps a day. Good for us. Hovering just above stationary. The reason this is such a big deal is that we are designed to be walking everywhere, not simply in our musculoskeletal system, but more importantly in in our nervous system. This is a system we’ve been slowly perfecting as a species for arguably 4,000,000 years. This evolutionary advancement is now under serious threat. And the threat isn’t a super-virus, climate change, or zombies (that we know of), but rather cars, cubicles, couches and the like. Without further ado, here are a few good reasons to step out your door and go for a walk.
-Simply put, when we are walking we aren’t sitting down. Walking helps your body recover from the low level stress that is sitting.
-It’s great for your brain. A ten year study out of the University of Pittsburg found that elderly who averaged a mile a day were half as likely to have cognitive decline.
-Walking, like all aerobic exercises, helps the body lose weight and decrease body fat percentage.
-Walking is shown to improve mood, decrease anxiety, and decreases stress. Also, recent Portuguese study showed that walking effectively treated depression in patients who didn’t respond to medication.
-It will decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease, two of the top five killers in our country.
-Somewhat counterintuitively, walking an hour a day can decrease joint pain as well as help prevent osteoarthritis. Kind of a “use it, or lose it” principle. Along these lines, walking also helps increase bone density and maintain healthy cartilage.
These reasons should be enough to get you motivated. But if you would like to read more I recommend this article for a quick and entertaining read. “The Crisis in American Walking.”
And in the wise words of the great J.R.R.T. remember…
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”