Scientists are still debating exactly when, where, how, and why the species that became us stopped scampering around on all fours, and began to walk erect.
But, with gradual anatomical changes over six or so million years,
we’ve gotten used to it, and at this point it, it feels quite natural. We can walk erect all day now and get from place to place, as people in many regions of the world do daily.
Although our current anatomy made it harder for us to climb trees, walking erect has spawned other things we’ve come to enjoy, like baseball, basketball, tennis, stand-up paddle-boarding, track and field, soccer, ice hockey, roller derby, walks in the park, hiking mountain trails, carrying a colicky baby around the room for hours. Okay, scratch that last one. How about dancing?
For better and worse, nowadays, most of us only have to walk from the car to the elevator, and walking has been relegated to recreation, or simply, exercise.
This brings me to the fact that walking is good for you. We all know that. But, just as a reminder, here’s a partial list of the health benefits of walking from Mayo Clinic
Some people think walking is so good for you they almost never sit. People work at standing desks and wear pedometers to count their steps. 10,000 is a common daily goal.
Others can’t stand to just stand. They’ve built desks onto treadmills and take meetings, type emails, and do their office work while walking. I’ve heard numbers like 10 miles a day in a treadmill while at work. Some believe treadmill desks boost productivity.
I’m a walking advocate and a walking enthusiast. However, as you may know, I believe in the ease in, start with a little, stay in your comfort zone, set attainable short term goals, build up to your ultimate goal over time, method of exercise.
Studies show that vigorous exercise has the most positive effect on the list of health benefits. The same studies also show that moderate exercise shows measurable benefits.
And, I know from personal experience that it’s more sustainable when it’s fun.
This, as you may have guessed, brings me to my pleasure principal. If I like something I do it because I like it. If it’s good for my health, so much the better.
It’s easy to like walking if it’s easy. Start with a pleasant gentle stroll, and if you build up at your own pace over time, it stays easy, even when you eventually build up to vigorous.
I think pedometers and heart rate monitor watches are good tools if you keep them fun. The prices have come down and they give you some valuable information.
But some of the fittest people I can think of, the people who walk everywhere every day because walking is their only mode of transportation, don’t use them. So you don’t absolutely need them.
Shoes are good, walking, running, cross training, or hiking shoes, if you can afford them. But I’ve been to countries where some of the fittest people can’t afford them. Some of the people I’m thinking of don’t have shoes at all. But, I do suggest activity appropriate shoes if you can afford them. Otherwise, just shoes will have to do. You can get plenty fit in just plain shoes if they’re comfortable to walk in.
Good posture is essential for walking. Stand and walk with your head over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and the whole body line-up centered over the base of the feet. Don’t slouch forward or lean back. Try to keep your abs pulled in when you think of it. If you’re used to less the good posture, it may feel awkward at first. But, once you get used to it, I don’t think you’ll want to stand or walk any other way.
Music is the plane that flies you to your destination. So if you like music, plug in your ear buds and walk to your favorites. Try to pick music that helps you walk at a comfortable pace, not too fast or too slow. Stay in your comfort zone.
Do walk. Please make time in your day for it. Whether it’s outside, in a mall, on a treadmill, or in place. It’s in your nature. And, I think you’ll thank yourself for the effort.
Last but not least walking is an adventure. Here’s a video of something that actually happened to me while out walking. The camera just happened to be there.
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