Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
This is guest post from Kevin Geary. Kevin is the founder of Rebooted Body, host of The Rebooted Body Podcast, and creator of the Total Body Reboot online program. He uses a unique blend of ancestral science and modern psychology to help men and women reprogram their body and mind for sustainable fat loss, vibrant health, and peak performance. Enter Kevin…
Walking is the number one underrated activity for health and fat loss. But, it’s time consuming and it often lacks excitement, which are the main objections I hear. Until now.
Look, I’ve made these same objections myself. Some days I love walking and some days I can think of better things to do. Sometimes I have a lot of time and sometimes I’m pressed for time.
But it’s something that has to be done. You’re a human being. You have to move. Sitting is killing you and going to the gym a few times a week isn’t going to change that.
What I’ve done is come up with some techniques for spicing up the activity of walking, which will help you want to fit it in. I also give some tips for fitting walking into your busy schedule.
This isn’t a list of shallow suggestions like, “listen to podcasts” or “take your dog.” It’s a list of ways to be more engaged and excited about the activity itself and to create a deeper connection with your primal nature.
This is a mental exercise as much as it’s a physical one. It also happens to be the number one way to ensure you’re completely present on your walks.
It’s simple: breathe only through your nose for the entire walk. Don’t open your mouth. If you need to slow down at any point, do so, but keep breathing through your nose.
If you hate meditating or think meditating is woo-woo stuff, then just do this exercise on your walks and you’ll get many of the same benefits.
I wouldn’t recommend that you do this on ALL your walks, but it’s a great exercise to employ from time to time.
If you walk the same path every day, it’s no wonder you’re bored. If you walk on concrete every time, same thing.
When you walk the same path day in and day out, your mind wanders. You’re just going through the motions. It’s a small fraction of what it could be.
Walking used to be about traveling. You’d walk to new places, see new things, and explore. Often, you’d be scavenging for food or water.
Adopt that mindset! Reconnect with your primal nature. Don’t set out with a distance or a plan. Don’t set out to follow a “course.”
Start on your normal path and then take a random detour. Be willing to get lost. Be willing to get wet. Be willing to walk through fields and forests.
When you’re exploring, all five senses are honed in on the land in front of you. Cherish that, it doesn’t happen often these days.
When I walk with my daughter, I notice she stops often and engages with stuff. She’ll pick stuff up, look at it, smell it. She’s two — and 200% present. Reconnect with that part of your humanity. Be okay with slowing down, stopping, and taking the time.
Bonus points if you can forage for wild foods. It’s not easy. Research online for how to identify them, collect them, and prepare them.
You’re going to need to channel your inner child for this one.
I’m not a fan of running — the monotonous, pounding activity that so many people love to destroy their bodies with. But, that’s not to say that you can’t run, ever.
Agility walking is the most dynamic form of walking that I’ve come up with. It’s a mix of walking, strategic running, leaping, climbing, and sometimes crawling. It also perfectly compliments exploration.
Here’s how it works: If the landscape is flat or downhill, then walk. If it grades uphill, then jog. Mix in the exploratory nature (veer off course) and start tackling obstacles. Don’t walk around the downed tree, leap over it. Fence in the way? Don’t find your way around, climb it.
You can do this in a forest or an urban jungle. My last agility walk took me through a park where I hit the monkey bars, slid down a slide, climbed the fence to the baseball field, sprinted across the field, climbed the other fence, and then went back to walking.
There’s no recipe. It’s all about making the trip as dynamic as possible and incorporating as many movements as you can into the activity.
You can do this whether you’re 20 or 80, just tailor it to your individual abilities. Yes, it still counts as walking because you end up walking for a majority of the time. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun.
Oh my God, I’ve got this great idea!
What? What is it?
We could actually walk to our destination!
I was in Austin, Texas for the PaleoFX conference recently and an odd question kept coming up. When we were heading out for lunch or to after-conference meet-ups, the question was, “should we drive or walk?”
You wouldn’t think that conversation would come up at a Paleo conference, but alas, it happened often.
Sad, I know.
So, I chimed in as quickly as possible: walk!
Homo Sapien Domestico Fragilus — as my friend Daniel Vitalis refers to our modern subspecies — is always so quick to make things more convenient and less physically demanding. How often have you had the same conversation?
If your destination is within 5 miles and you’re not pressed for time, then walk! Cherish the fact that you don’t have to walk in a circle today just to escape the doom of your convenient lifestyle. You have somewhere to go — that’s exciting!
My footprints are ALL OVER Austin. And I’m better off for it. And I got to see more of the city than I would have if we had taken a car everywhere.
Want a quick way to know if you belong to the fragile, domesticated version of Homo Sapien that I mentioned earlier?
Think about the time of day you tend to walk. In the Summer, early morning or early evening when the sun is low in the sky to “beat the heat?” In the Winter, mid-day when it’s warmest? Always when it’s bright, because the darkness is dangerous? Always when it’s dry, because you might melt if it’s raining?
You’re infected with the domestication virus. Sorry.
The good news is that it’s curable. Varying the time of day you walk and the conditions you walk in are the antidotes to your fragility.
Walk when it’s cold. Walk when it’s hot. Walk when it’s dark. Walk when the sun is rising or setting. Walk when it’s raining.
Experience the variability. Life shouldn’t always be a steady 70 degrees. Live a little.
If you’re walking in barefoot shoes or minimalist shoes, you’re doing pretty well. But I want to challenge you to take it a step further.
It doesn’t matter if you’re walking on concrete or planning on heading off the beaten path, barefoot is the way to go. Even if you only go full barefoot once in a while, it’s a step up in your walking game.
There’s nothing like feeling the Earth — putting the nerves in the bottom of your feet against the soil is as primal as it gets.
Sure, it’s more dangerous. You could get cuts and scrapes. But it’s worth it. The more you do it the tougher your feet will get and the more intuitive you’ll be (to avoid dangerous things).
It’s also a great way to ground yourself. While there may be controversy in the science surrounding the benefits of grounding, there’s no doubt that barefoot is the natural state of walking.
One of the biggest objections I get from clients is, “I can do the bodyweight strength training, resistance training, and sprint sessions — those are short and sweet. But walking on top of all that is just too much of a time investment.”
I so get it! We’re all busy. I quit my job to build Rebooted Body full time and I’ve never worked more in my life. So, what’s my solution?
Step One: Make daily activity a priority — schedule the time.
Step Two: Walking Workouts to combine walking with a workout to fit it all in.
A Walking Workout is where you combine bodyweight strength training or a sprint session with your walk. You can spread it throughout the entire walk, pausing at various points, or you can do the workout portion all at once in the middle or at the end of the walk.
If you’re clever, you can do this with resistance training too. It depends on how Grok you wanna be with finding big logs, rocks, and so on.
A big benefit to this is that the brisk walking is a great warmup for whatever else you’re going to do. And it’s a natural cool down as well. Perfect.
As humans, we need to be walking — intentionally — every day. Understanding this, let me help you deal with all the excuses and objections with one single tip.
Here it is…
It doesn’t matter if you have five minutes or 5 hours, get outside and walk intentionally every single day.
There’s plenty of days where I feel too busy or unmotivated. On those days, I just walk to the end of my street and back. Five to ten minutes. When I’m feeling motivated, I’ll walk for an hour or two.
Avoid boxing yourself into plans and schedules. Saying, “I’ll walk 30 minutes a day” is too rigid. Habits come from doing things without fail, but building a habit has nothing to do with duration of the activity.
What you’ll find when you walk daily without setting time limits is freedom. Most of the time, once you’re out the door you’ll decide to go further than you felt like going. But, if you think you MUST do some arbitrary amount of time, you may not make it out the door at all.
If you have any tips for making walks more exciting or engaging, I’d love to hear them in the comments section!