IS there a most important movement? A BEST movement? Something that satisfies all “requirements” for “working out” (whatever that is) – calorie-burning, muscle-building, endorphin-boosting awesomeness?
If we had to make time for ONE thing to get MORE of in our daily movement, it is walking. Add more walking to your life.
Being a bi-ped is one of the characteristics that makes us uniquely human. The human body evolved to walk and as it did, our species adapted in specialized ways to walking because it was energy efficient. Did you know that when humans were exclusively hunter-gatherers (from as many as 2.9 million years ago, though there are still a few groups that exist like this today), women walked an average of 5.6 miles per day? And men walked an average of 9.3 miles per day. Our large leg and pelvic bones, as well as our feet, are highly functional for long distance walking.
But walking isn’t for the lower body alone. We walk with arms swinging in opposition which is very important for energy efficiency. How much arm swing can also be an indicator of the function of the motor cortex and the vestibular system in the brain. Plus, it is possible that one reason (or just a benefit) of walking on two legs is that it enables us to CARRY things! How much we carry and how we carry it can create a whole new walking experience in infinite ways. It is a WHOLE body, whole brain movement.
Here’s something to think about when you are walking: how hard you are naturally striking the ground when you step. The ground forces load on your body and turn a movement pattern that our body evolved to do into a very complete body workout.
The Math: 1.2 x Bodyweight = load during walking.
Average male: 200lbs
Average steps per day: 8,341
200 lbs x 1.2= 240 lbs/step
240 x 8,400 = 2,016,000 lbs per day!!
Do you think a small joint issue could be a big problem with this kind of loading? It’s one more reason to pay attention to alignment and training. My teacher Dr. Cobb says that walking is some of the strongest full-body loading some people ever do. The fastest way to change the body then, is to change the way you walk. You brush your teeth every day (twice! three times!) because you don’t expect your teeth to be healthy by having your dentist brush them only twice a year. The same is true for the health of your joints. Load them with more walking over all, and pay attention to where your body is telling you something. Bring your observations to your session!
Maybe you have a device that keeps track of how many steps or miles you walked in a day. I aim to “be a hunter-gatherer-walker” every day that I can. Walking is healthy! Eco-friendly! Highly efficient! Community-oriented!
Hey – and it is FREEEEEE!
Let me know what you think – do you think it is the most important movement?