Read Time: 2.5 minutes
Our ancestors of the cave and the plains didn’t have Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and they didn’t have refrigerators that held a week’s worth of grocery. So many of them walked nearly every day to forage for food, pick wild berries and gather edible plants and hunt wild animals. They didn’t have 50-hour workweeks at some faceless corporation, so walking was their job.
And so walking was what we did for millions of years… until twelve thousand years ago when some industrious dude decided that agriculture was the way to go. So after this point no one had to walk much to forage for food. Civilization now got harvested grains brought to their dinner plates. It was brilliant. They could now sit around, drink wine, and eat. Since then television was invented, further taking away the reason to walk. And then the remote control was invented. You know the story.
And so, with the decreased reason to move (self-propel), we realized that we need to compensate for it with something else. Ah hah! Health Clubs! And so we pay $80 million for their memberships each year. And at the gym many of us get stronger and improve our cardiovascular and respiratory fitness with chrome dumbbells and a variety of interval programs on the treadmills. Oh, and there is a multitude of running clubs out there that we can join. Many of us are now much fitter people.
So, for the folks with superior fitness, walking is viewed as a wimpy, superfluous activity far beneath them. Walking is for the decrepit, the nearly dead. If you’re not getting your heart rate up to at least 85% maximum, the trainer says, then you’re wasting your time.
So in a matter of a few decades, an activity that had a big part in establishing our genetic makeup for over 2 million years is suddenly not worth our time. Because we’re too good for it. We’re already too fit.
Well, not so fast. Some of us might have superior fitness, but we still need walking.
According to this study, we still need to walk regardless of how fit we think we are. While intense workouts like weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are great for our fitness, they also increase inflammation. Walking, on the other hand, doesn’t trigger inflammation, and it may help control it or reduce it. Walking supports aerobic endurance, cellular (mitochondrial) activity, and fat metabolism — all without increasing inflammation. And the circulatory effect of walking may help reduce the inflammation created by an intense workout, a poor diet, and a stressful lifestyle. Lowering inflammation is a good thing because it is associated with poor health and mortality, period.
Here’s a quote from the study:
“… vigorous activity was inversely associated with hemostatic markers but not with inflammatory cytokines. Regular walking is associated with lower levels of hemostatic and inflammatory markers independently of vigorous physical activity in healthy men and women.”
So get out there and walk — it doesn’t have to be speed walk, but just a nice long stroll at a brisk pace. For those who have been sedentary and not conditioned, a short walk is a good way to start on your fitness program. Walking stimulates bone metabolism; so even for those who don’t engage in formal exercise, a no-grain, real-food diet and regular walking may be all you need for a healthy and lean body. Just get out there and do what you can… but start walking!