Walking, one step at a time, one day at a time. Walking just for the sake of appreciating God reflected in nature. The miracle of a sunset, the soaring granite peaks of El Capitan, the peaceful sound of birds, and distant waterfalls. The wordless mindfulness of hikers masking faces while passing each other during these unique times.
Many of history’s great thinkers were writers who hinged the working of their minds to the steady movement of their feet. They (i.e. Virginia Woolf, Gandhi, Walt Whitman…) felt the need to get up and get the blood moving, leaving the page to go out for a stroll. How many of us choose to close our computer to take a walk just to be present and experience the world around us without expectation? These thinkers got their creative juices flowing through movement and so can you.
Aside from the benefits to our mind and soul, research tells us the following about optimal walking for longevity.
The study from the American Cancer Society followed 140,000 older adults and reported that those who walked six hours per week had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer than those who were not active, but that walking even as little as two hours per week could begin to reduce the risk of disease and help you live a longer, healthier life.
The world’s longest-lived people from the Blue Zones didn’t run marathons or join gyms. Their lifestyles naturally nudged them into moving. They grow gardens, do house and yard work. They have jobs that require them to move and they walk every single day, almost everywhere.
In Amish communities, one study showed that the average woman logged 14,000 steps per day and the average man logged 18,000 steps and both men and women walked 10,000 steps on their day of rest. These Amish communities also had the lowest rates of obesity of any community in North America. When this study hit the media, it’s what was behind the movement to reach 10,000 steps a day.
Some of the benefits of walking include:
- Activation of the lymphatic system
- Elimination of toxins
- Fighting infection
- Strengthening immunity
How do you fit 10,000 steps into your day?
- Take several small walks like walking your dog, having walking work meetings, going for a walk with your family after dinner. Research supports doing movement throughout the day vs doing a 40 min gym workout then just sitting all day.
- Walk 5 minutes every hour. Perhaps setting an alert on your computer will help remind you.
- Take one long walk 40-60 min with a friend. In this time of COVID you can still social distance, be masked, walk outside and get the benefits of social connection and fresh air. Happy stepping!