Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
1 May

Why We Don’t Walk Anymore (plus a Primal Health Challenge)

How many steps do you walk every day? Do you hit 10,000 steps, which experts recommend and is about 5 miles’ worth? Do you match the daily walking of a Hadza man or woman (8.3 or 5.5 km/day, respectively)? If you’re anything like the average American, you’re doing 5,117 steps a day, well shy of the 10,000 step mark and flirting dangerously with a formal sedentary classification. But we’re not alone (though we’re the worst). Of the four industrialized countries studied, not a single one found the mark. The Australians seem to come close, walking 9,695 steps a day. The Swiss follow with 9,650, and the Japanese are a bit further off with 7,168 steps per day. Contrast that with rural South African women, of whom just 11.9% can be classified as sedentary (under 5,000 steps a day) and for whom an average day means walking 10,594 steps (many of them done while carrying a load), or Amish aged 18-75 (PDF), who walk an average of 18,425 steps (men) or 14,196 steps (women) each day, and we’re all looking pretty darn sedentary.

Do we even need the cold hard statistics to know that we’re not walking nearly as much as we should? When I look out the window at 8 AM on a weekday and fail to see hordes of barefoot children walking uphill in knee-deep snow toward school (and uphill again on the way home), I know in my heart that walking is becoming a lost art in this country. But does it have to be like that? I don’t think so. Just take a look at a totally-fabricated-but-completely-plausible average daily schedule for an adult with a standard 9 to 5 job:

His alarm blaring (and eyes bleary), Ken Korg rolls out of bed and trudges to the bathroom. That’s 16 steps.

After brushing his teeth, flossing (if he remembers), and showering, he heads back to the bedroom to get dressed. That’s another 16.

From the bedroom to the kitchen to putter around making coffee, grabing some breakfast (bacon and eggs and a bowl of raspberries), and cleaning up is 40 steps.

He kisses his wife, packs his lunch, grabs his gym bag, and heads out the door to his car. That’s 50 steps.

He sits in his car for 45 minutes, never moving from the seated position. Zero steps.

He parks the car and walks to the office, which is located 300 yards away. At roughly 2.5 feet per step, that’s 360 steps.

He gets up from his desk several times before lunch, to make coffee (30 steps there, 30 back), to use the bathroom (45 steps there, 45 back), and to chat with a coworker (35 steps there, 35 back). That’s 220 steps.

For lunch, Ken likes to hit the company gym and eat afterwards at his desk. After walking to the gym (500 steps), he does a basic circuit, including an easy half-mile warmup on the treadmill (1000 steps) and walking to and from various weight stations (500 steps). That’s 2500 steps, including the 500 back to the office.

It’s 100 steps to an afternoon meeting in an adjacent building, and 100 back. 200 steps.

Ken’s off at five o’clock. He pops in to a colleague’s office to confirm their dinner date later that week (30 steps), then heads to his car (360 steps), for a total of 390 steps.

He stops by the market for a few things. They’re having steaks and grilled asparagus tonight. It’s a 100 yard walk from his car to the store (120 steps). Once inside, he wanders around the aisles (1,500 steps) for a bit, pays for his stuff, and returns to the car (120 steps). That’s 1,740 steps.

Ken gets home and goes directly to the kitchen to drop off the groceries. That’s 45 steps.

He grabs some salt, some pepper, assorted spices, some matches, and heads outside to start the charcoal and prep the steaks and asparagus for grilling. This takes about 80 steps.

After dinner and cleanup (30 steps), Ken and the fam take the dog out for a short, leisurely walk around the neighborhood. They do a mile and a half (3,000 steps), for a total of 3,030 steps.

That’s pretty much it for Ken. There’s some miscellaneous movement around the house, but nothing crazy. Let’s say another 200 steps before bed, for a grand total of 8,887 steps. That’s over 3,000 more steps than the average American takes, and in my eyes, that seems like a pretty easy day of walking. Nothing too strenuous, no dedicated lengthy walks or hikes. I may have been a little generous with the step counts, but it’s overall a manageable sum for an able-bodied adult, wouldn’t you say?

So why aren’t we hitting it? Why is the fictional character outdoing the general population? Why are between 25-35% of American adults completely inactive, meaning they work sitting down, drive everywhere sitting down, and sit down at home?

The main problem is that modern life isn’t made for walking. Though it isn’t true for everyone living within its borders, particularly in dense urban centers, the US (and other industrialized nations, increasingly) is a car country. We drive to work. We drive to the grocery store. We drive our kids to school. We drive to a fitness center to go walk around a track or on a treadmill. We drive because everything is spread out. We drive because our cities aren’t built with pedestrians in mind, because it isn’t always safe to walk. We drive because half the residents in our neighborhood don’t see a need for sidewalks and actively resist their construction. We drive because that’s just what you do, because “all my friends have their licenses already,” because “walking is for poor people.” Oh, and we drive because walking is tiring, dude, and the car is right there. In short, we drive because we no longer have to walk. Walking – real walking, for more than twenty or thirty minutes at a time – has become an elective activity.

And we rarely elect it anymore.

That’s really too bad, because walking is good for our general wellbeing. It’ll help you lose body fat, if you’re into that sort of thing, and the age-old bodybuilder trick to lean out is an early morning walk on an empty stomach (supplemented, of course, with stringent dieting, heavy lifting, and smart supplementation). But it’s also good for your brain, your fitness, your memory, your longevity, your blood pressure, and your general health. From a previous post, see this short snippet of potential health benefits associated with regular walking to get an idea:

So, obviously, walking more is a good thing. That brings me to a challenge. It’s a short one – just a week long – but it’s important. Crucial, even. And I hope you’ll accept it.

I have this niggling feeling that you guys – my whole cow-sourcing, veggie-fermenting, standup-workstation-constructing, type-of-cooking-oil-inquiring Primal readership – still aren’t getting in your five hours a week of low-level activity. Are you? Be honest with yourselves. Do you measure up to Ken Korg, the Australians, the Japanese, the Hadza, or the Amish?

Let’s take a poll. Be brutally honest.

How many hours of low-level aerobic activity (walking, hiking, light cycling, swimming, etc.) do you get each week?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Well? How’d you do?

Not so great, huh?

To rectify this situation and show you what you’ve been missing, I want you to spend at least one dedicated hour every day (yes, I’m bumping it up a notch) engaging in low-level aerobic activity – walking, cycling, hiking, rowing, swimming, or a mix of all of them. Just log that hour (and more, if you want) every single day. Walking around the mall or grocery store or to and from the bathroom don’t count toward your total. This has to be a solid hour of slow moving, preferably unbroken but splitting up the hour into two blocks works, if that’s easier.

I also want you to track your results. Remember last week’s fasting Q&A, where I mentioned using a logbook and tracking/writing down your results? Do the same thing for this challenge.

As you progress through the week, rank your energy level, mood, general sense of wellbeing each day, restfulness, or sense of productivity from 1-10.

If you’re able to, track an objective marker, like blood pressure or waist size. Since this is just a weeklong challenge, these objective measurements may not change much, if at all, but they’ll likely start to shift if you stick with the daily regimen.

If you have or want one, a pedometer would be a fun way to get immediate objective results. I guarantee if you get that hour of solid movement in, you’ll hit 10,000 steps without a problem.

If you must, walk on a treadmill. Heck, walk around your house like a crazy person. While it’d be ideal to walk outside, preferably purposefully through space and time, say on a wooded path or city street, what we’re ultimately after is the basic mechanics of bipedal movement. Lift foot, fall forward, catch your descent with lead foot, lift back foot, repeat. That is the premier Primal human movement pattern for which all of us are well-suited (injuries and preexisting conditions excluded, of course), and which many of us have forsaken – to our detriment.

Let’s knock that off. Let’s walk (or cycle, or swim) for an hour every day. Can you do that? I’m going to do it. Who’s with me?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I do walk a lot, but only because I’ve never learned to drive, live in Brooklyn, NY and walk or take public transportation everywhere. I’m sure many of us NYers have an advantage in that because drivers are the minority in this town (in my opinion).

    But people like my mom who live in suburban NJ where sidewalks are nearly extinct, it’s not always easy to get around on foot. I’m sending out good vibes to all you suburbanites as you try and fit in an hour of walking/etc this week!

    The Jaded NYer wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Agreed! I’m also from Brooklyn (also can’t drive), and I walk, bike or take the subway everywhere except Costco :) I’m also a college student who has to walk all over a very hilly campus to get from class to class. However, I’m currently planning my stay in L.A. for the summer, and I’ve been shocked at how difficult it is apparently going to be to get around without a car. I’m hoping to be able to bike, but they certainly don’t make it easy. I’m just now starting to realize how fortunate I was to grow up in a city where I got used to walking all the time.

      Martha wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • There is actually a study done on this. People in NYC are much more likely to walk, and have much leaner body compositions than average Americans. I wish I could find it.

      I’ve also noticed this traveling to cities in Europe where the population density is high, such as Amsterdam and Beograd (inner city), almost everyone walks and everyone is lean. I saw only one obese person in Amsterdam. Almost everyone rides a bike or walks in Amsterdam, because they tax the hell out cars, parking, and taxi’s. It’s almost like the government subsidizes walking, but it’s in reverse.

      Also, since population density is high driving becomes a burden much more than walking.

      Matthew Caton wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • There is plenty of evidence that where you live tends to affect how much you walk. It’s not the “modern life isn’t made for walking.” It’s that we have collectively made walking difficult to do in our modern lives through decisions like how we plan our cities, where we build schools, and what investments we make in highways and sidewalks.
        I get that this site is about personal choices rather than collective choices, so here’s a plug for using walkscore.com as part of the criteria for where you move next.
        For those curious about digging deeper on the status walking in America, there is a great 4-part series that just ran in slate.com:
        http://www.slate.com/articles/life/walking/2012/04/why_don_t_americans_walk_more_the_crisis_of_pedestrianism_.html

        Chris Rall wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Ah, you’ve met our obese person. ;-)

        Seriously, there are many obese people in Amsterdam. I am one of them and I don’t remember meeting you. So there are at least two of us..

        Bob wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • Maybe he was talking about you…

          Bruno wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • LOL.. that’s funny

          Shoobidooo wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • LoL ! Nice quickie comeback : )

          HoneyB wrote on October 31st, 2013
      • http://www.slate.com/articles/life/walking/2012/04/why_don_t_americans_walk_more_the_crisis_of_pedestrianism_.html

        here is an interesting 4 part article from slate about the state of walking in america

        america and its communities, for various reasons from history, are just not set up for walking

        for example, i just visited japan, you could literally take a train and then walk to get anywhere…

        compared to my parents house in suburban massachusetts, which is <1.5 miles from an amtrak/commuter rail station, but there is NO safe way to walk to it, because of busy roads with no sidewalks

        shazkar wrote on May 2nd, 2012
      • awesome!! thanks for that laugh! :)

        pamby wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • I live in the suburbs of Rhode Island and I can tell you that in Northern RI there is minimal walking. People who use public transportation probably do better specifically in the city. I almost feel “weird” walking when cars are whizzing by. With gas nearly $4.00 a gallon, I just think its a bit selfish to waste it on short trips to anything that is close by unless you have a legitimate reason. Get to know your neighbor! People are afraid of social contact. Before the invention of the cell phone people walked more. I hope this changes or gets better. The benefits of walking are many. Clears your mind, reduces stress, increases awareness, allows you to sleep better. It also takes time to walk your not getting immediate gratification so maybe that makes it less attractive. I mean you have to put your self out there rather than stay in there…..:)

      Jennifer wrote on August 31st, 2013
  2. I’m currently walking every street in my city. This is a great way to make walking exciting, explore the city, and keep the dog happy. I estimate it should be about 125 miles by the time I’m done and I’ve walked about 25% of that so far in the past couple weeks. Get out and walk your city too!

    Ryan wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • What city?

      For a second I thought you were this dude: http://imjustwalkin.com/

      He’s walking every street in NY City which adds up to over 8,000 miles.

      Primal Toad wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Brilliant! The geek side of me would have a large blown-up map of the city on the wall and I’d color or highlight the roads I’ve walked…but then I’d feel compelled to “catch ‘em all” and given that I live in a sprawling suburb, I’d have to devote the rest of my life to it.

      JofJLTNCB6 wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Well then this site should make you giddy :)
        http://www.newyorkcitywalk.com/

        Tim W wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • THANKS! That is one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in awhile! Appreciate it.

          Todd wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • I’m SOO GIDDY! Thanks! I need to do this in my city. :)

          Beth wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • Cool idea!

      Tina wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • I thought of the map thing to. Just not as organized. Also, I don’t think I thought of it as long.

        I walk to and from work most days. Maybe take the bus once or twice a month when there is down pour.

        That gets me to an hour a day already and it takes about as much time as taking the bus. Plus I get some sunshine on the way home which I need. I work nights so sunlight is at a premium during the winter. I take a lot of vitamin D but I should be doing the cod liver oil instead. I also get some nice cold exposure in the winter.

        Trevor wrote on May 5th, 2012
    • I walk every street in my town every year. LOL – of course there’s only 4 streets and it’s at halloween with 4 kids

      MamaB wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • The city is New Hope, MN, a smaller city of about 5 square miles. It’s amazing that I’ve lived here most of my life and haven’t seen 1/3 of the city. Indeed, I went to city hall and got a poster size map of the city and I highlight all the streets I’ve walked (along with GPS maps).

      I have a lot of respect for the people who take on much larger cities like NYC. That’s intense. I’ve thought about walking Minneapolis at some point, which would be about 1600 miles.

      Ryan wrote on May 3rd, 2012
  3. Great blog post & challenge, Mark!

    I normally walk 1.5-2 hours daily (dog walks, hikes & urban errands) and when I dropped that in half this winter, my waist size went from 25.5 to 27 inches!

    Needless to say, I am back on the trails and will make sure to keep walking a LOT all winter.

    Sondra Rose wrote on May 1st, 2012
  4. I’m going on a cruise next week! And although i’m looking forward to it, I panic that there won’t be enough place to just walk like I always do on holiday.

    Greg wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Where are you cruising to? On my cruises to Alaska and the British Isles, it was quite pleasant to walk around the promenade deck several times. On each trip, there was actually a 5K.

      Depending on where you are going, there may be lots of opportunities to explore on foot in port. Of course, if you are doing a trans-Atlantic or repositioning, that won’t be the case.

      Have a good trip!

      Harry Mossman wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • It’s a week round the med, Morocco, Gibraltar and Spain so your right plenty of walking off the ship. And a gym on board too. Not forgetting looking after an excited five year old.

        Thanks

        Greg wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • On our cruises we actually end up walking a lot. Cruise ships are huge! You won’t have any trouble finding a place to walk. Plus we always use the stairs instead of waiting in line for the elevators.

      priller wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • The only cruise I have been on, I walked a lot just by avoiding the (long lines at the) elevators. I think we certainly logged more than 10K steps a day.

      Stephanie wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I thought the same thing first cruise I went on, but I averaged 12,000 steps per day (took the pedometer out of interest) one busy day I felt pretty tired at the end of it, looked at my steps and it was 25,000, thats about 25 kms mostly up and down stairs.

      Sarah wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • thanks to Priller, Stephanie and Sarah, I’ll not hold back too much at meals time then!

        Greg wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  5. Mark,

    You are scaring the shi* out of me. Just last night I posted the following on my facebook fan page:

    “I have an urge to do something crazy like walk across the United States beginning in June.

    Anyone want to join me?”

    Now you post this?!?! On why we don’t walk anymore? I’ll say this is an omen. I need to do this.

    It would be for many reasons. One to just do it. To inspire. And to spread awareness about Primal living.

    Primal Toad wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • haha! I’ve been talking (for the last couple weeks) about riding a bicycle from Washington State to Chile while surviving off the land (as much as possible, of course). I’ve been learning about trapping and skinning small game – I bought a couple of real portable bows, and I recently picked up a couple of books on identifying edible wild greens, seeds, and vegetables.

      “I need to do this” from your post reflects my feelings as well.

      Bruno wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Well, I don’t know how to trap and skin small game or identify wild greens and such really. I’ll probably sleep on strangers couches, spare beds and maybe sleep in a tent many times. I’m not really sure. I’ll be planning this out all through May.

        I’d be walking about 20 miles per day on average.

        Primal Toad wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • Whoa, how long would that take you at 20 miles per day? Where would you be starting and ending? This would be really interesting if you did this. Go for it! I always wanted to hike the whole appalachian and honestly don’t know why I didn’t before I settled down and had kids but I’m stuck (for now).

          K wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • Barefoot or in Vibe’s?

          Stephanie wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • K – I am just thinking about it for now. Lot’s to think about! It would definitely really crazy if I end up starting soon!

          But, I mean, why not do this?

          Stephanie – Vibe’s. Probably 2-3 pairs. Good sandals too.

          Primal Toad wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Primal Toad,

      My wife and I had this conversation two days ago while watching Forrest Gump…If not for children we might have headed out that night! If you decide to do it good luck. I remember back in the late 70’s somebody did this and documented the trek for National Geographic magazine…it was a great read.

      Nick wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • A lot of folks have done it. I’m reading about Nate’s aventure right now. He did it last year.

        Primal Toad wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I could easily do that.
      I’ve evolved to walk…
      Only problem is how to keep on getting a pay check LOL.

      Arty wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • If you’re so inclined, this is quite an inspiring book about jus touch a journey.

      http://www.amazon.com/Walk-Across-America-Peter-Jenkins/dp/006095955X

      Mike wrote on May 2nd, 2012
      • *just such a journey

        Mike wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  6. Starting really walking again has been pretty big for me, it just feels right. Plus the muscles around my hip section are developing again, including butt muscles, butt muscles are awesome ;D

    I get around 30km per week about now, which is in addition to daily living walking, and the results feel good, and so natural.

    juzzie wrote on May 1st, 2012
  7. That is one thing San Francisco is good for: driving is absolutely impossible, and the public transit system is such a mess that it’s not a good option either. If I have the time, I frequently say screw it, and walk to my destination, which can sometimes add up to 3-4 miles roundtrip (with hills!)

    cTo wrote on May 1st, 2012
  8. I’m with you! I need to get off my ass…

    Bruno wrote on May 1st, 2012
  9. I’m considering gardening as acceptable. That gets me to the nearly 5 hours, if not more.

    Turling wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Gardening is great exercise. Bending, squatting, pulling, reaching, kneeling, digging, hauling, etc! Plus being in the dirt and the outdoors.

      Hillside Gina wrote on May 1st, 2012
  10. I’d like to make an additional point (I forgot :P). Prior to walking I used to ride bicycle a LOT. And I really noticed since starting walking that your really use yout leg muscles in a completely different way, cycling is awesome for the quads, but walking gives your leg muscles a much more ‘total package’ exercise than cycling. Particularly in the feet and front side pelvis muscles in my experience.

    juzzie wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I cycle every day, often towing nearly 100 pounds of kids, gear and the bike trailer. I have really cut down on walking since our second child was born. I was just feeling how tight my upper hamstrings were as a result of riding on clipless pedals for such a distance.

      I made the commitment early this morning to start walking to work twice a week instead of riding to start stretching my legs out.

      Then I read this post and have solidified that commitment. :-)

      Happycyclegirl wrote on May 1st, 2012
  11. I work in security and take an intentional walk most days. It’s one of the cool things that my job requires periodic walking rather than constant sitting.

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on May 1st, 2012
  12. Maybe another reason walking is out of style is that it doesn’t seem like a very good return on the time investment. Among all the other exercise options it seems this would be one of the most time consuming yet least rewarding.

    Joshua wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I’m with you on that. I can easily get 4500 – 5500 steps (measured with Exerspy) in a single 55 minute Body Step class. How many hours of walking would that be? Busy as our modern lives are, efficiency is a must.

      On the other hand, when I take a de-load week, a nice long leisurely walk makes for a simple active recovery exercise.

      Jeff wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Every 2500 steps is equivalent to a mile for me (I’m short). I can walk two mile in 30 minutes. So your 5000 steps would take me half an hour. If I walked for 55 minutes (the length of your Body Step class), I’d almost be at my 10,000 for the day :)

        Emily wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  13. I was about to unwind by playing video games for an hour — but you’ve inspired me to go out for a walk instead.

    Scott wrote on May 1st, 2012
  14. I am one of those strange American adults who does not drive ( due to some vision issues). As a result I’ve always done a lot of walking ( and carrying heavy loads!). I have always lived someplace where I could walk easily and safely.

    A recent move though has ended me up in a town with no sidewalks and countless blind corners. When I go out to walk with my daughter and my dog I feel like we’re putting our lives at risk. So, as you suggest in this post, like crazy people we walk endlessly around and around our house in the morning for our walk. It saddens me to live someplace that is so anti pedestrian.

    Erika wrote on May 1st, 2012
  15. I live in the heart of Seattle, and I walk everywhere: to the grocery store, the coffee shop, the bank, to restaurants, to the movies, to downtown, to the park, etc. I also go dancing 1-2 times a week.

    I average at least 70,000 steps a week, though my daily count will vary. How do I know? I use a fitbit pedometer. Don’t know how accurate it is, but I figure it’s close enough. It also helps me track my sleep. (www.fitbit.com)

    rozska wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I just bought one a few weeks ago, and I love it. I am not up to 70,000, but I’m working on it. It does motivate me to get off my butt :)

      Katydid wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I love my pedometer. (I have an ‘Omeron’ Walking Style II) – I’ve worn mine in my pocket for about 2 years now. I aim for 10K plus steps, and usually achieve this. On a rare, very slow day, it reminds me that slow=sedentary (=unfit and fat!). In the UK, we are better set for pavements/sidewalks, at least in most towns.

      Mark’s point – and the post – is excellent, but the reason Mr Korg gets 3K more steps than the average American is because of the 1.5 mile walk with the dog. Americans (and Brits, too) would all be more fit if they walked a mile and a half with the dog every day. The rest of Mr Korg’s day is pretty lazy – and typical, I’d think.

      Violet wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Mind you, all dogs are not equal when it comes to walking stamina. I have a weiner dog and he is a meanderer and sniffer – straight walking not so much! Although if I go to certain trails or the beach he will walk better than just around our neighborhood.

        Hillside Gina wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • No so about some dogs being better walkers than others. They are born to walk.

          I’ve heard The Dog Whisperer on this topic. YOU control the walk, not doggie. He only sniffs and meanderers because YOU let him. Grab that leash and just keep walking – don’t let him stop and sniff at all. And make sure he doesn’t cross your path in front of you – make him stay by your side.

          After the first half mile let him sniff and pee – then keep walking. You decide pee/poop breaks. That’s what dogs want to do with their owners, and what they would do in the wild – WALK for hours. As dogs are animals (not children!) it is natural for them to follow their Alpha dog (YOU) and do what the Alpha dog does.

          Barbara Hvilivitzky wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • Oh, that reminds me of my doxie. She was passed away at 17 and until she started having seizures, we would go around the block almost every day. She was so slow that I would almost fall over waiting for her. Our neighbors would laugh (good natured) at how long we took especially when Dixie would stop and rest at each driveway. I always had to allow over an hour, just to walk around a small neighborhood block. Good memories!

          amy wrote on May 2nd, 2012
        • It’s true that not all dogs are equal when it comes to walking. My wiener dog is actually a great walker (unless it’s hot)…when he wants to meander too much, I just say, “Let’s run!” and he loves to run a few blocks with me, good exercise for us both. My cocker spaniel can also keep up. But then I got a Pom. After a mile I have to carry him, even sooner if it’s hot. It has nothing to do with who’s the Alpha Dog either. The Pom is just too tiny and he can’t keep up.

          Emily Crow wrote on May 6th, 2012
      • Yes, Americans and their dogs would be a lot fitter if they took a 1-2 mile walk together. NYT just did an article on overweight pets and it looks like there are a lot of them.

        I have hip dysplasia, and extra weight makes it hurt more, so my lady takes me for a walk every day to keep the extra weight off and keep those hip muscles strong.

        Don! wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I used to live in downtown Portland. Walked everywhere; it was wonderful. Mark’s post has spurred me on to walk more here in Carson City now. Whoohoo!

      amy wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  16. ps. you can also get pedometer apps on your smartphone

    Scott wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Accupedo Lite!

      .. it’s not what it sounds like.

      Bruno wrote on May 1st, 2012
  17. I’m new to my office and always walk during my lunch break, for about 45 minutes. Several colleagues approached me about walking (they were actually watching me outside their office windows!), so I started a group. I send out an email reminder so people don’t get too wrapped up in their work and forget,and set up a reminder on my outlook calendar. We walk 3 days a week for a half hour.I do more on my own, but it feels good to motivate my coworkers and it’s a great socializing opportunity, especially with management folks. I’m going to see if I can up it to an hour!

    Amy wrote on May 1st, 2012
  18. Honest question: what’s the difference between this and “chronic cardio”?

    Kristy OT wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Chronic Cardio is where you’re going for 20-45 minutes or so trying to hit 70% of your maximum heartrate, or some such measure. You’re pounding away at the gym, working up a sweat. This is simply walking. Unless you are seriously out of shape, a walk around your block shouldn’t leave you panting, out of breath. But that same amount of Cardio probably would. Basically, a slower pace. Also, there’s probably some other benefit. A 30 minute bike ride along the beach is much more rewarding than the same 30 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym.

      John wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • 70% of HRMAX is not that much. If you’re trained well enough and if you’re body is good at burning fat (read: keto-adapted), you can keep running at this heart rate for hours and use fat as fuel. That’s what humans evolved to be good at.

        Martin wrote on May 1st, 2012
        • Assuming your knees hold up.

          jake3_14 wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • that would be jogging, running, harder cycling, swimming fast laps, and other activities that really boost your heart rate. then do those activities often, and for long durations and you have the “chronic cardio” concept or overtraining. gentle walking, swimming and easy cycling confer fitness without the heavy wear and stress of excessive cardio.

      Real Food RD wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Real Food gets it right. The occasional bout of cardio for up to even an hour (I wouldn’t do much more than that, ever though), isn’t going to do much damage. It’s when you do 45 minutes to 1 hour on a regular basis, almost daily, that it DEFINITELY gets to be too much.

        Professional runners (and even cyclers) that train for hours a day, daily, definitely do too much. Even recreational runners that run 3 or 4 times a week might be doing too much. But once or twice is probably ok.

        Drumroll wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • The main difference is the amount of strain on your body. “Chronic cardio” is the stuff that makes you sweat heavily, gets your heart pounding, and makes your knees weak when you try to walk around afterward. A long walk for an hour per day may leave you a little more tired or even sleepy, but shouldn’t strip you of all of your energy.
      If it does that, I would think that walking slower or working up to an hour over the course of a few days would be in order to get yourself used to it.

      Meg wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • CC is forcing cardiovascular adaptation that is detrimental in the long term to retaining muscle mass while walking causes no significant training effect because it is of insufficient intensity.

      Dave M wrote on May 1st, 2012
  19. Honestly, I think a lot could be done to solve this problem in adults if they took away benches at playgrounds. I’m completely serious! I see so many adults who take their kids to the park, plop themselves on a bench, and let their kids run around like crazy. I love to play with my kids at the park–it’s the easiest exercise ever. Parents with kids–when your kids are active, be active yourself, and I bet you’ll get that time in easily.

    Shannon wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I saw the same exact thing at a science museum in Pittsburgh, filled with children exploring and parents and grandparents sitting on their asses on the benches everywhere. They even have benches on the ramp that leads to the upper floors, so people can stop and rest when they get winded between floors. I remember thinking that one of the worst things people ever invented was a place to sit.

      ioelus wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • The benches are also helpful to those who have back problems that become painful after standing too long. Even us fit people have other health challenges.

        jake3_14 wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Without those benches some children would never get to the playground. Years ago when my eldest was little I would need to sit for 15 minutes after the uphill walk to the playground or risk passing out.

      wolfemum wrote on September 6th, 2012
  20. I don’t understand how so many people can own dogs, yet still not walk enough. I have a lab (middle-of-the-road as far as exercise needs go) and in order for her to stay healthy, she *needs* an hour-long walk every day. Every dog expert you ask will say that. Sometimes it’s broken into a 20-minute walk and a 40-minute walk, and if I have more time we take it and do an hour and a half or two hours. I can understand (sort of) people not taking the time for themselves, but for another being for which they’re responsible? It’s not just laziness or poor planning, it’s bad pet stewardship.

    Sarah wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I’m with you, I walk my dog (a lab mix) 4-5 times a week around 4.5 miles (1.5 hours). The other days we either do the dog park or shorter walks. If we don’t get a walk, she doesn’t let me sleep at night. I should admit to being very fortunate, in that my husband, lets me stay home with the dog :)

      Jennifer wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Agreed. I have a pair of English Cocker Spaniels – they get (and need), a short walk in the morning and at lunch time and then a good hour of running around in the evening. If they didn’t get it they’d drive me nuts so it’s a fair trade off for an easy life. But the fact is that I love it – evening walk is a fantastic way of shedding the stresses of the day…and I’ve made loads of new friends too. Weekends are a whole different ballgame – hillwalks, beach trips – 2-3 hours at least. I love it!

        Barbara wrote on May 1st, 2012
  21. Luckily, Boston is a very walkable city. It’s such a chore to find parking that walking is almost always the better choice.

    Joooolia wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I lived in the South End for many years and walked everywhere with a double stroller, even in freezing wether. I used to walk several miles, between going to parks, running errands and getting groceries. Having moved to the suburbs, I don’t get to incorporate walking into my daily routine–I have to make time for it. I miss the walking culture of Boston!

      Sabrina wrote on May 2nd, 2012
  22. I lived in Boston over the summer and made sure to walk to and from work each day. It was about a mile and a half each way. I only took the T twice the entire summer when the weather was bad.

    I actually found my morning walk to be rather relaxing. It helped prepare me for the day ahead and walking home helped me leave things at the office and help clear my mind. Plus if you live in a city walking can be great fun. You may even meet people walking alongside you on the street! Or, just get to stop and watch as an oblivious walk and texter almost gets hit by oncoming traffic!

    What’s not to love.

    Obviously some cities are harder to walk in than others. I live in the suburbs of Miami and walking to places is not the convenience as it is in NY where you can walk to the market to pick up fresh food, etc.

    Jake wrote on May 1st, 2012
  23. I walk every day, between 3 and 5 miles, but I live in Center City Philadelphia and only use my car if I need to leave the city. That’s fairly typical for people in my area, but atypical for most others in Philly.

    Andreva wrote on May 1st, 2012
  24. Needed this – thanks! Will do

    ramsmom wrote on May 1st, 2012
  25. I’m with you! Honestly while I certainly live within the 80/20 rule for my primal eating, I admit my primal movements fall far short. Time to take things up a notch, make another “small correction” and take the next steps (pun intended) to even better health and well-being!

    Great article! Thanks! … ran outta exclamation points so I have to stop commenting here :)

    Rob Horton wrote on May 1st, 2012
  26. Life today has become MORE CONVENIENT than it was in the past–the work has been taken out of it! Even having babies has gotten easier, as the epidural has taken all the pain and second-thoughts about having kids away. Now we can have as many as we want pain-free, along with the disposable diapers, jarred baby foods, nannies, and all other manner of making kid-rearing convenient!

    The information age, electronic era, or whatever you want to call it has done their very best to make just about everything as push-button, remote-controlled, automated, and motion-sensored as it possibly can, and now all those gadget workers have been put out to pasture because there’s no more for them to do. The rest of us are also stuck with nothing to do as a result of the pastured workers’ efforts.

    It’s always been about “freeing time”…to do WHAT ELSE? I’d like to know. Freeing time to spend on Facebook or Twitter, texting some garbled nonsense to the world about what you’re doing that very second?

    Want evidence? Just look at the Roomba, and its outdoor cousin, the Rooma mower. The smart phone is another example. How hard was it ever to run a vacuum cleaner around, or push a lawn mower, or look things up in a library? Apparently for some, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back!

    The only thing someone hasn’t managed to make is an individual cell activity control device, but I’m sure that’s on the horizon.

    It’s always been about making life more convenient–that’s what propelled our economy since the Depression. They call this “progress”, but is it really? We did all this to get off the farm and away from rural roots, to make a “better life” for ourselves, but where do we find ourselves today? Back on the farm, begging for clean food from clean places.

    Have we come full-circle as a society? Perhaps. We’re headed back to the farm, but now the farmer herds his cows with GPS, runs his unmanned farm equipment with remote control, satellite, and GPS, has milking stations on timers, and machines to pick crops. He also buys pre-made food for the animals instead of growing his own. Animals themselves are artificially inseminated because they can no longer remember how to breed, and we call this progress? No–this is CONVENIENCE and TIME-SAVING for the farmer so he can provide us with a little nostalgia.

    This is our epidural to take away the pain of paying premium prices for what should cost less than conventional food–after all, less went into producing it, right? Problem is, now there’s so many more of us to feed!

    Wenchypoo wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Point taken and understood; however, no amount of pain meds or convenience is going to convince me to have another kid.

      MissJenn wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • Yeah, I was going to say, ‘tell that to my wife’ :)

        Todd wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • My thoughts, too. Great comment, and I agree 99 percent. But, I was very glad for pain relief in child birth! (I had a c-section for medical reasons that saved the life of both me and the baby. Not all progress is bad… :-) )

        Violet wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • LOL, me too. I think the real reason it’s so easy to pump out kids with little thought about it is because if you can’t support them the government will. But that’s another topic entirely.

        K wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I HATE HOUSEWORK! The best thing I bought lately was a neato vacuum cleaner. Now while my little “pet” cleans the house, I get to do fun things like go for a walk before the kids come home from school and demand all my attention, or spend some time on a dressmaking project. Sorry, but cycling, walking or playing with the kids totally beats vacuuming, ugh. Technology is not bad per se, depends what you do with the free time!

      Marion wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Keep your little fingers off my epidural (as I’m 2 months from having my 2nd kid). Seriously, it’s not the childbirth that will kill you, it’s the 1.5 years of sleep deprivation.

      Marcia wrote on May 1st, 2012
      • I totally agree! Having given birth to three kids in five years and nursing them them on demand for years, the pain of childbirth is a distant memory. It’s insignificant compared to the years of sleep deprivation and chronic exposure to noise pollution! Epidural or not, you couldn’t convince me to have any more children!

        Sabrina wrote on May 2nd, 2012
    • What an absolutely ignorant comment. 1) pain in childbirth is largely the result of religion and deeply ingrained cultural beliefs. We expect it and think it is a must and it becomes a very real physical reality. It makes survival sense that there is some distress to signal to a woman that she needs to take cover and find a safe place as she will be vulnerable as will her child and the presence of men in childbirth is causing a lot more difficult and painful labors for women I believe and ruining intimacy and destroying male-female relationships 2) many primitive societies have always had natural pain remedies much more effective and safer than what we use today and 3) women are less likely to want babies today and have fewer than they ever have. A lot of women that want a lot of babies have natural home births

      Saying that having babies is easier than ever is plain ignorance. Women are more disrespected in their roles as mothers now more than ever and mothers are granted absolutely no legal protections even in marriage. Under population, not over population is becoming the issue now because we simply aren’t having babies. Women now opt for the “safer” option- a career.

      Look up orgasmic birth and belly dance and find that painless natural childbirth is not a new idea and goes way back a long time. I had a natural home birth with only me and two women NO MEN (including my husband ) were present. I felt some pain but nowhere near what society makes it out to be. It was peaceful and I couldn’t believe I had just given birth because society told me it was the worst thing ever but it wasn’t. Nobody touched me and I was able to have a stress free birth that was relatively painless and no injuries. Most women get injured because of what the medical establishment does (slices a woman open without her consent).

      Birth can be peaceful women just need to listen to their bodies and they need PRIVACY. Something that is lost in us today.

      britbrit05 wrote on December 2nd, 2013
  27. 10K steps everyday seems rather unnecessary for every individual. Besides some of us are a little more fit than that and dedicate our time to other pursuits.

    I’d rather spend my recreation hour each day practicing something I actually want to be good at – strength, power, and stamina.

    Walking is for the weekends when I have leisure time.

    Goyo wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • I wondered about this too. If I’m spending 1-2 hours a day doing more intense activities that I enjoy (bike riding, tennis, evening trampoline class), does it really matter that don’t walk much? I’d love to, but it’s just not possible with the typical 11-hour work days and 2.5 hour roundtrip car commute.

      Jill wrote on May 1st, 2012
  28. Mediocre, but I do stand, mostly – standing work station for my computer + being an at-home mom = no real need to sit down more than once a day (I do sit for about an hour in the evening, usually).

    Jenna wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Standing should count towards walking. It is impossible to stand completely still even if all one does is shift his or her weight from foot to foot.

      I am a big believer is standing.

      Goyo wrote on May 1st, 2012
  29. Count me in

    lostAnnfound wrote on May 1st, 2012
  30. Just got a pair of Vibrams yesterday, so I am taking my dogs and my dog for a walk. I’m in!

    Debra wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Debra, I have been wearing my Vibrams for over a year now with my dog. Enjoy them!

      Cathy wrote on May 1st, 2012
  31. I’m pretty lucky as I ride my bike to work (a short distance, less than two miles). I also work with very young children, so I get to spend at least an hour a day outside with them. Then, I come home to a very energetic dog, so I usually roller skate with her or play a rousing game of fetch for about twenty minutes.

    I don’t consider myself one that “exercises,” but I’m not sedentary either. I think it is nice to have that freedom to be outside and moving.

    Marissa Davidson wrote on May 1st, 2012
  32. I walk to work: that’s about a mile there and a mile back. Sometimes I get out in my lunch hour and do another mile. That’s about an hour in total and still only three miles, of the five recommended. But what with a full-time job, and the gym, and my church responsibilities, and choir, and orchestra, and the garden, and the housework, and the husband, I honestly don’t see how I can make time for any more.

    Orielwen wrote on May 1st, 2012
  33. This article is strangely timed for me as well. As I just decided over the weekend to spend my luch breaks walking 2-3 miles. I’ve always been a low carb person, now attempting 21 day PB.

    Elaine wrote on May 1st, 2012
  34. Coincidentally, I was just reading Mark’s previous post on walking last night and checked my town’s walk-ability score at walk score dot com. It was only 49%, but I think that’s because I live just beyond the one mile point for most destinations. I realized that I could easily walk while doing errands, instead of doing errands and finding time to walk. I’m already planning to walk to the farmers market, which opens this week.

    BootstrapsOnMyFivefingers wrote on May 1st, 2012
    • Egads — my town scored 23%! But I know I can do a 40-minute loop from my apt. that includes 2 hills.

      jake3_14 wrote on May 1st, 2012
  35. Working in a restaurant has got me covered on this one. 36 hours a week on my feet!

    Cherice wrote on May 1st, 2012
  36. Play golf. A 6500 yd course turns out to be a 6mi walk omce you count all that walking looking for the ball. Also there is no better way to have nice walk in the woods

    jack wrote on May 1st, 2012
  37. I’m lucky – I live in the countryside and I have two dogs who just love their walks, so they get about an hour a day. On top of that, I spend a lot of time fetching wood for the fires in the winter, coal for my Aga every day, as well as gardening several times a week. My house is not small, so I can walk a mile before breakfast just getting around the house and doing those early morning chores (putting dogs out, getting coal, etc)! The few times I’ve used a pedometer, I’ve been notching up between 7 and 12,000 steps per day depending on how lazy I’m feeling …

    oliviascotland wrote on May 1st, 2012
  38. While walking to the gym this morning, I was thinking it was time to resume my early morning hikes! I’m in!

    rose wrote on May 1st, 2012
  39. After reading the 10K steps goal elsewhere a few months ago, I bought a pedometer to check myself. I found with some chagrin that my usual count was about 7K steps a day. But once I knew that it was easy to bump it up to 10K more or less by taking stairs, parking at the farthest end of lots, and being inefficient at home (carrying single items up and down the stairs instead of multiple items to save trips).

    Fitness writers always advise this but it wasn’t until I got a pedometer that I realized how far short of the goal I was yet how easy it was to add 3K steps.

    Susannah wrote on May 1st, 2012
  40. I wish I could walk more, though the challenge has got me planning. I do everything I can to walk more, including parking as far from the school where I teach as I can. You should hear the questions I get. While I hear and understand some of the comments about prefering to work out rather than walk, for me, it’s all about time. I’d love to ride my bike to the store, as walking would make the trip ridiculously long and difficult, depending upon what I buy, but even bicycling is something I can’t make the time for. It’s not convenience–I can’t get the things I’m expected or required to do in a day done if I allow time for long walks.

    I do think it’s interesting in Mark’s Ken Korg scenario that, without that mile and a half walk, Ken is walking the same amount as the average American. Maybe just the average day explanation with the math would demonstrate how, without doing something extra, we’re living too sedentary lives?

    ioelus wrote on May 1st, 2012

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