Hey Radical Health Seekers,
We humans are perfectly adapted to an environment that no longer exists…
And we’re not very well adapted to our modern environment of processed foods, traffic jams, cubicles and 24/7 social media.
Biologists call this an “evolutionary mismatch”, and it explains why most of us are struggling with ill health today.
Thankfully, this evolutionary mismatch also explains the solution, which is to live a more ancestrally consistent life, in tune with what our biology expects.
You’re probably familiar with most of them:
- eat an animal-based diet
- lift heavy things
- get sunlight
- belong to a community
But there’s ONE thing that rarely gets talked about, yet it’s probably the most fundamental part of this equation…
And that is walking.
How many steps do you walk each day?
Are you like the average American, who gets a little over 5,000 steps?
Or more like the average Hadza hunter-gatherer, who walks an average of 15,800 steps?
Certainly a good middle ground to aim for is the recommended 10,000 steps, which is about 5 miles’ worth.
It might depend on your age, too.
Because unfortunately, the number of daily steps we take declines by 50% between the ages of 40 and 70…
And by age 60, we’re walking 33% slower than we were in our 40s…
Contrast this with modern hunter-gatherers, where daily walking distances and speeds barely decline at all with age (ref).
Walking is the human way.
And even if you use a standing desk in the office, and hit the gym daily, you still need to be walking. Lots.
Because if we’re sedentary for 14 of our 16 waking hours, we’re telling our bodies that we’ve given up and that it’s okay to entropy…
We’re telling our body that all those millions of years of daily, constant walking no longer matter.
Walking has always been (and still is) our default state.
You might walk around your block, but our ancestors walked around the world!
Walking was freedom.
It was how we explored new places, and discovered new plants and new animals.
If a place got crowded or we didn’t like the weather? We walked somewhere else.
And even when we put down roots and got comfortable in a place, we didn’t stop walking.
After all, we were hunter-gatherers, largely nomadic, who went where the food was.
Some days we might have walked 3 or 4 miles just to fetch firewood and water…
Other days, we might have walked 20 miles, following migrating herds of ruminant animals and looking for honey.
15,000 to 20,000 steps per day. That’s what we should be aiming for if we truly want to live as our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
And not only did our ancestors take more steps, but the steps they took were nothing like ours.
They were navigating hunting trails instead of smooth asphalt…
Barefoot or lightly shod instead of in the latest Nikes (we discussed how important this is in a recent edition of this newsletter)…
And carrying 30 lb zebra legs instead of 7 oz iPhones.
Even long after we stopped hunting and gathering, and became neolithic farmers, walking remained our primary mode of transportation.
Egyptian farmers walked. Viking warriors walked. Medieval peasants walked.
Monks, servants, blacksmiths, builders, grandmothers, teachers, postmen, seamstresses, bakers, cleaners, cobblers and priests. Everybody walked!
19th Century laborers often walked 6 miles per day…
And the modern Amish, – a great proxy for pre-industrial agrarian people, still walk 14,000 to 18,000+ steps each day (ref).
We need to walk like a shark needs to swim.
But nowadays, 75% of modern jobs are completely sedentary, and we’re sitting more than ever. We sit when we’re driving, when we’re working, when we’re eating and when we’re watching Netflix. Not good.
Most of us will go to the gym, but can 1 hour on the treadmill/rower/machine really make up for 23 hours of being sedentary?
Of course not.
Because it isn’t so much that exercise is medicine so much as inactivity is poison.
We all need to be walking more.
If you are coming from a place of poor health, and you struggle with mobility and physical exercise, then walking is the perfect entry point for you.
It’s easy and non-intimidating.
And especially if you are one of the 80% of people who suffer from back pain, or 20% of people who suffer from knee pain, try walking. Many studies, including this one, have shown walking to be as helpful in soothing chronic low back pain as other unmedicated therapies.
And this study found walking helped reduce knee pain more than not walking.
And even if you’ve already got your health dialled in, and you think walking is beneath you, think again.
We need walking MORE than we need deadlifts.
It’s easy to do the sexy and seemingly crazy stuff…
Things like eating liver and bone marrow, drinking raw milk, wearing those funny looking blue light blocking glasses, going barefoot, putting tallow on your face and doing kettlebell swings in the grass.
But walking – this boring yet fundamental aspect of our biology gets so little attention!
Let’s make walking sexy again.
Walk barefoot on the grass.
Walk with your kids on your back.
Walk in between sets of pushups.
Walk instead of watching Netflix.
Walk in the morning.
Walk every Sunday.
Walk while listening to Radical Health Radio.
Walk somewhere new.
Walk up a mountain.
Walk in between running.
Walk in the forest.
Walk with friends.
Walk in the dark.
Walk in the rain.
The Heart & Soil Team
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