April 22, 2023. It’s Earth Day. Get back to where you once belonged. On your feet.
We started doing this upright walking thing a few million years ago. It’s how we got places. It’s how we got food. Until the last hundred years or so. Nowadays in the “developed” world, most of us get around by sitting on our butts in motorized vehicles. Lots of us are overweight and obese. More and more of us have to deal with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. And reduced aerobic capacity and muscle strength.
I don’t think the health consequences are a coincidence. Do you?
Looks like your highly evolved body still expects you to be walking everywhere. What we now call “exercise”. So it’s not surprising that old-fashioned walking keeps you healthy – and can even restore and improve your health. Study after study shows that taking a brisk 30-minute walk five times each week reduces the risk of premature death from all causes by twenty percent – after just a few months of this walking schedule.
So if it’s too far to walk to work or the grocery store, just walk briskly wherever you can. Wherever you are. And take a long walk once a week. Miles. Walk as fast as you can for a few minutes. Then slower for a few. Keep alternating your pace. Because it looks like this sort of high-and-low intensity interval walking does you even more good than walking at a steady pace.
Here, there and everywhere
In 1970, I went to Washington, D.C. to march and rally for the first Earth Day. OK, I drove there. But I was on my feet for at least twelve hours straight after that. So if you’re near Washington this weekend, march a few miles. Five miles and less than two hours will get you across The Mall, to and from the Capitol, the Washington Monument and Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials.
5 miles in Portland, Oregon: From the International Rose Garden to the Japanese Garden, through the Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary and back through MacLeay and Pittock Parks.
If you’re in London, 5 miles means a tour of Hyde Park before a stroll to the Buckingham Palace Gardens, along St. James Park to Westminster Abbey and over to Victoria Tower Gardens by the Houses of Parliament.
You get the idea. Upright walking wherever you are on earth. And not just on Earth Day. This weekend, you can walk everywhere in every National Park – for free. Shake your thang, celebrate and help protect our National Parks. Pack some snacks and hike some of the most beautiful patches of undeveloped earth.
If you want to eat really well while you’re walking, have a look at all these >Walking & Eating Extravaganzas. Including New York. Venice. San Francisco. Santa Monica. Beijing. Charleston.
Happy Earth Day
It’s Always Something
Walking’s great. Alternating your walking pace is even better. A few minutes at a comfortable pace. Then a few minutes as fast as you can walk.
This study of middle-aged and older people showed that aerobic and muscle strength both increased by about twenty percent after five months of high-intensity interval walking. Hypertension, hyperglycemia and obesity decreased by about twenty percent. And depression scores dropped by half. “High-intensity interval walking may protect against age-associated increases in blood pressure and decreases in thigh muscle strength and peak aerobic capacity.”
Do it on a treadmill. Do it on the living room floor. Too boring? Not any more. Try in-home hiking with your smartphone and Treadmill Trails.