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Why I WalkOr how thinking about evolution made me worry about my health and love to walk
There’s some evidence to suggest our Stone Age, hunter-gatherer forbearers may have moved 10+ miles a day.
the Levy Pattern Humans still follow the Levy pattern when we walk about college campuses, urban environments like New York City, places like Disney World So do insects like honeybees, sharks and monkeys and other mammals
Evidence suggests we evolved to be runners We’re actually better long-distance runners than other mammals Even horses
So where’s that leave us?
millions of years of evolution and movement then suddenly this
welcome to the matrix
“In 1960, 1 out of 2 Americans had a job where they had lots of physical activity and actually exercised at work; by 2008, very few Americans were doing work that doesn't involve sitting around all day.” Dr. Tim Church, professor of preventative medicine, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU
Church’s research found: We don’t eat that much more today than 20 years ago – but we move much less In the ‘80s, 80 to 90% said they were physical active in their leisure time. Now, up to 50% of Americans admit they’re not active at all From 1960 to 2008, men now burn 140 fewer calories on the job per day Women burn 120 fewer per day 1 in 5 Americans say they move on the job, but that's probably a "gross underestimate” Probably more like 1 in 10
Similarly, in the late 90s, Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet found: Endurance athletes may expend 5,000 calories a day Construction workers and rural agricultural workers may expend 3,500 calories a day Estimated that hunter-gatherers used about 3,000 calories a day A sedentary American expends about 1,800 calories a day - Study by professor of exercise and sports science Loren Cordain, Colorado State University
You’ve probably heard we should be taking 10,000 steps a day
In 2003 study, average American took 5,117 steps a day West Australian 9,695 Switzerland 9,650 Japan 7,168 A person taking less than 5,000 steps per day is considered sedentary. - Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, October 2010
Amish men took, on average, more than 18,000 steps a day, and Amish women averaged more than 14,000 steps a day. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, January 2004
The result? We’re sitting A lot And sitting is bad for us
Notice the “sit” in obesity?
Are you sitting down for this?
sitting facts We’re spending more time sitting than any other time in human history: 9.3 hours a day (plus 7.7 sleeping) Obese people sit 2.5 hours more per day than thinner people As you sit, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute Enzymes which break down fat drop 90% People with sitting jobs are at 2x the risk for cardiovascular disease Sitting is bad for your back, neck, abdomen Sitting 6+ hours per day increases risk of death up to 40% over those sitting less than 3 – even with exercise If you sit and watch TV for 3 hours a day you’re 64% more likely to die of heart disease – even if you exercise
Wait! How’s that possible?
simple math Each time unit of sitting cancels out 8% of your gain from the same amount of running If you run for 1 hour, then sit for 10, you lose about 80% of the health benefit from your workout 1 hour of moderate-intensity exercise? Lose 16% of your workout gain from each hour of sitting University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, July 2014
so if you work out for 1 hour a day then sit for 6.25 hours you’ve pretty much lost all the benefit of working out
solutions? If you enjoy running, by all means, run But if like me, you hate running Consider walking
Remember Jared and his “Subway diet”? His weight loss was actually due to reduced calories and … walking.
but it’s about health, not weight Walking alone isn’t a quick ticket to weight loss. Just walking 10,000 steps, you won’t lose a lot of weight. It’s about overall health.
benefits of walking Walking burns 3-5 times the calories of sitting Decreased depression – increases neuro-transmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine Improved attention span – people who stop exercising can develop ADHD symptoms Increased creativity – from a 10-minute walk Lower blood pressure Increased self esteem Improved metabolism Improved neurogenesis Reduced risk of Alzheimer's Reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and more
but how? skip an hour of TV and go for a walk get off the subway a stop or two early take the stairs walk to the further printer go for a walk on your lunch break park your car further away from your destination walk while you make all your personal phone calls don’t stand still on the escalator take the long way home get a standing desk* ride a Citibike** practice “aimless walking” count your steps *some restrictions may apply **not officially walking, but still fun
wearable devices and step counting
wearing the Jawbone UP+ I noticed some patterns: It takes a lifestyle change to get 10,000 steps in daily The number of steps plummets when I travel or go on holiday Weekends should be easier but sometimes aren’t My schedule often hard to make up lost steps I started doing late night walks when I traveled or planning walks first thing in the morning
the conclusion: our modern day lifestyles are almost unavoidably toxic to our health
the solution: walk on!
thank you @stribs
further reading “The Anthropology Of Walking,” – NPR, January 09, 2014 “The Crisis in American Walking,” – Slate, April 2012 “The Evolution of Marathon Running Capabilities in Humans,” Sports Med, 2007 “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health,” Sports Med 2004 “How Much Does Sitting Negate Your Workout Benefits?” Runner’s World, July 14, 2014 “How Exercise May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay” – New York Times, January 18, 2012 “Hungry animals, people use ‘Levy walk’” – The Washington Post, December 2013 “Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults” – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, October 2010 “Physical Activity in an Old Order Amish Community” – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, January 2004 “Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise” – New York Times, July 7, 2010 “Stone Age Aerobics” – Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1997 “Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity” – May 25, 2011 “What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?” – NPR, August 04, 2014 “Why not even exercise will undo the harm of sitting all day—and what you can do about it” – Quartz, June 26, 2014 “Why 10,000 Steps a Day Won't Make You Thin” - U.S. News & World Report, May 2014 “Why Walking Matters” – WBUR, May 19, 2014