Meet Mark

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...

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June 08 2011

The Definitive Guide to Walking

By Mark Sisson
211 Comments

At first glance, this title probably threw you off. I mean, a guide to walking? Are we moderns really that dysfunctional that we can’t even walk correctly? C’mon, Sisson – you must be out of ideas.

Bear with me, here.

It may seem silly to need a definitive guide to walking, but I think we do. First off, walking is no longer necessary for basic everyday survival. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, the average person reading this blog can get by just fine without walking more than a couple hundred yards each day. Whether via buses, trains, cars, bikes, or delivery services, you’re not going to starve or die of thirst just because you don’t or can’t walk. I’ll argue that walking is an essential human activity that we ignore to our ultimate detriment, but millions of people do exactly that and think nothing of it. Progress? In a wider societal sense, sure. But on an individual level, people still need to walk.

Second, because walking is no longer “necessary,” we – the general, inclusive “we,” not necessarily the Vibram-clad elite – have forgotten how, when, where, and why to walk. Our technique is shot, we lack proper scope (a mile sounds daunting), we don’t even think to make time for regular walking for walking’s sake, and walking is seen as the last resort to be employed only when the tire’s busted, the train isn’t running, or the bus is late. Kids don’t walk home from school anymore (what, with all the lurking pedophiles?), people hop in the car to run down to the corner market.

I don’t always like to pull the “Grok logic” card, because it doesn’t always apply to our current situation. Here, though? Yeah. It makes sense, so pull it I shall. Walking is our birthright. The weird way we humans do it – obligatorily upright, hands free to wield tools and weapons, harsh sunlight coming at us from an angle instead of head on, relatively generous glutes making the whole production go – gives us a survival advantage. Well, it gave us enough of one to help us blanket the globe with funny shaped footprints. And our feet aren’t exclusive to homo sapiens: a 1.5 million-years old homo ergaster footprint preserved in Kenyan mud reveals that hominids have been using essentially the same feet and the same stride for hundreds of thousands of years. That means that before our big complex brains hit the scene, the same feet you enjoy today were stomping mud and carrying our distant ancestors around. These feet are millions of years in the making. I’d say that’s a pretty good track record, and I think it’d be a shame if you didn’t utilize them.

Grok walked a lot. Heck, he walked everywhere. Riding animals didn’t appear until after the agricultural revolution, so unless you buy into the ancient aliens theory, you accept that our paleolithic ancestors relied on self-ambulation to get around. It seems pretty plausible to suggest that we’re probably well-adapted to walking on a regular basis. I’d even go so far as to posit that walking might even be highly beneficial to our health and well-being. Given our extensive history with the activity, you might even say our genes “expect” us to walk.

What does the evidence show? Surprise, surprise: walking is good for you and enacts multiple beneficial changes in our bodies. To name a few:

I could go on but I won’t. Suffice it to say, walking is overall a healthy activity. I don’t think there’s any disputing that. Besides, droning on about the physiological benefits of walking detracts from the real reason I want you to walk so much: it’s an enjoyable way to get out, move, be active, and experience the world.

Despite it being our birthright and really healthy and all that jazz, many of us would be well served with some walking technique tips. Note that I don’t condone the usage of bulky, heel-centric shoes, so all technique tips given assume that you are barefoot or in minimalist shoes with minimal to zero heel drop. Sorry, but that’s just how I roll.

The Leisurely Stroll

This is the everyday walk you use when walking to the farmers’ market, through the mall, or down to the watering hole across relatively flat ground. Lead with the heel, a straight but not locked leg, touch down briefly and lightly before transferring the weight onto the balls of your feet. What you get is a smooth rolling sensation. Check to make sure your glutes are firing by walking with hands on cheeks. You should feel your glutes tense up with each step. In public, this looks suspect, so do the self-assessment from the comfort of your own home. This is not heel-striking, which is a running style characterized by repeatedly slamming one’s heel into the ground to the ultimate detriment of one’s lower extremities. This is heel-touching, and it’s far less abrasive.

The Stalk

When you’re hunting something or making your way across an uneven landscape dotted with rocks, sticks, and (like, maybe, you’re hiking off trail) other bits, use the stalk. Keeping your knees slightly bent at all times, walk by focusing on the balls of your feet. Your heels will touch, but your midfoot lands first. Take shorter steps than you would when heel-touching.

Walking Uphill

Land fore/midfoot first. Touch down with the heel and engage your glutes to propel you upward. Repeat with other foot.

Walking Downhill

I like landing with my entire foot. Maybe the heel hits first, but I try to land with my whole foot. Walking downhill is an exercise in stopping yourself from hurtling downward, so this can get tough. Absorb the impact with your hips by keeping the weight on your heels, rather than your toes.

Whichever method of walking you use, always keep your torso on top of your hips. Stay upright (you’re a biped, so act like it!). A floppy torso that bends and sways throws off your balance and wastes valuable energy. Stay tall.

In my experience, it’s the easy, seemingly inconsequential stuff that’s the hardest sell. The crazier, more unconventional stuff gets all the attention. Tons of people get out there and do heavy squats, order grass-fed cows, buy the latest Vibram model, learn to love liver, and proudly stride barefoot into the grocery store – but they drove to get there. It’s the easy things, like walking regularly and often, that are somehow the hardest to do. They’re the easiest to ignore. Walking? Yeah, it’s nice, it’s relaxing, but it won’t put on the mass and elicit the hormonal response of a set of heavy deadlifts. It isn’t sexy.

Walking matters, folks. Big time. If we stop moving, even if we’re standing at our desks and hitting the gym every other day, we’re dying. We’re telling our bodies that we’ve given up, that it’s okay to shut down, that all those millions of years of daily, constant walking were an aberration, a mistake, a fluke. That’s folly. I think you know it, but I don’t know if you know it.

So get moving – starting tomorrow. Wake up ten minutes early tomorrow and use that extra time to walk around the block. Practice the different walking techniques. Go barefoot. Feel the ground beneath you. Enjoy the still dewy blades of grass slipping between your toes. Feel the serrated edges stimulate those long-dormant nerves. Ignore the mythical broken glass, infected syringes, and rusty nails littering the ground and welcome the occasional uncomfortable rock digging into your sole. It happens, but that’s life, and it’s okay. Just keep it moving and leave it all behind.

Do you take time out of your schedule to walk? Should you? Do you have better things to do? Let us know how you incorporate walking into a world where walking is a leisure activity!

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211 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Walking”

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  1. When first replaced my regular shoes with Invisible Shoes (“barefoot sandals”), I was shocked to discover how aggressively I walked, slamming my heel into the ground, jamming force into my knees and hips.

    I felt like I was late for a business meeting in New York, even though I was strolling through idyllic Boulder, Colorado.

    Happily, the feedback from being barefoot — but with a layer of protection — totally changed my gait. I usually land midfoot, or I sort of roll past my heel (it’s more of a flat footed stride). And I tend to search out beds of rocks or mulch, because walking over those in my sandals is like getting a reflexology treatment 😉

    1. I have noticed that exact problem with myself. Slowly but surely my gait is becoming more relaxed, but it was just so surprising to find that I didn’t even know how to walk correctly!

  2. Great post! When I started wearing Vibrams and walking barefoot, I felt like I had to completely relearn how to walk. I found that I walked much harder than I expected and always struck with my heel first… probably from years of wearing heels.
    Now that I’ve adjusted to walking barefoot, I find that I walk much more softly and with a mid-foot strike, even in non-barefoot shoes.
    Thanks for the reminder- walking is something almost everyone can do. Added bonus, if you walk outside, during the day, you get fresh air and Vitamin D!

    1. I love walking barefoot! I have a 17 month old and I think he has only worn shoes a handful of time… the rest of the time he is barefoot.

      1. I really strongly think that this is why being barefoot as adults is so liberating and stress relieving, it brings us back to the peace of mind we had when we were children. I notice a distinct difference in my mood when I go a few days without a quiet walk in the woods.

    2. I totally agree. I do a lot of walking since I live close to everything. But once I changed from running shoes to the vibrams my stride, and posture changed for the better. I love how my body feels now, with no more pain in knees, or lower back.

  3. I LOVE walking rather than driving but find it a bit difficult in the suburbs where I bought a house (bad decision!) I looked up the “walkability” of my address and it was only a 5 out of 100! Laughably awful and definitely not primal!!

    You can check out your score at walk score dot com. Hopefully you live somewhere more pedestrian friendly than I do!

    1. Cool website, but sorta slanted. My address got a score of 35, apparently because I am too far from downtown, which I could easily reach by bike. I live a stone’s throw from a fantastic riverside trail. I can easily walk to grocery stores, banks, Borders, a university, a bus stop and good restaurants.

      1. It’s not the best data, because the (rather large) neighborhood my address is lumped under gets a 42 (despite my house being within a mile of all kinds of amenities) while the next neighborhood over, which is one street away from me (and closer to my house than the majority of the one they lump me in) gets a 73. Quite a difference for walking one street up, lol!

        1. yeah, the scores seem to be based upon some advertising of the listed locales. My home is under 1 mile from a theater, a library, a shopping area (cobbler, anyone?), a movie theater, a gym, a YMCA, schools, a few restaurants, and a train to a major city and 2-ish miles from major stores and amenities. 48??? I chose it for complete walkability 25 years ago.

    2. i get a 97 out of 100. that is one advantage of city life, despite the other potential downsides.

    3. The key to walking is slowing down. You can walk no matter where you live. it doesn’t really matter how close things are.

      I grew up in the suburbs and I walked everywhere! It was slow going but so far superior to driving. I had the opportunity to see so much and think so long. I loved spending my days on foot. I didn’t even bother to get my drivers license till I was 19.

      I have only owned cars for a few years here and there in my life and again I don’t. I walk and ride my bike everywhere. It is satisfying to get myself around with my feet or my pedals instead of letting a car do it for me.

        1. Quite obsessively, yes. Funny you ask though. Just on Monday it was 90 something degrees here and I took it off while I rode to pickup my daughter from preschool. I rationalized that it’s just a ride on quiet neighborhood streets, plus my reflexes are super fast since the accident. I’m wondering if I’m kind of obsessive about wearing my helmet now. It was a mountain biking accident after all and I only ride around my neighborhood anymore. I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t need a helmet. Maybe the accident really did do something to my brain!

        2. dont forget… it is not the speed we are moving forward, it is the fall from our saddle to the ground that breaks our noggin… use yer brain bucket whenever you are on a wheel!

    4. Thanks for the link! My good ol’ town has a walk score of 94, a “walker’s paradise.” But I knew that. 🙂

    5. I’m not sure that motivation isn’t more important. My address is scored 20, but across from our suburban allotment is a nice 3 mile dirt trail. As often as possible when I need to run to the grocery for one or two bagfuls, we walk and talk the “long way” as often as possible. I just have to convince wife to do the possible more often 😉

    6. I agree with one of the other responders. The website thinks it is great if you have to walk 20 feet to something. Also where I live it is 102 degrees reight now at 5 pm with 6% humidity. You don’t walk around in that stuff. A freind of mine broke down not 1 mile from my house and had to walk down the road (downhill literally) to another intersection about 3 miles away. I stopped by to see him the next day (I wasn’t home and where I work you cannot have a cell phone) and he was suffering from severe dehydration and still had symptoms of sunstroke. He is in shape and regularly walks the dog every day, but now that it is getting a bit warm you got to be very careful. Last week my GF saw a motorcyclist fall off his bike and collapse face down in the pavement because of the heat. Fortunately she was able to render aid and get the paramedics to get there fast. And forget about walking at night. You will run into rattlesnakes and other such nuisances out here at night. And vibrams? the pavement gets to nearly 300 degrees in the day and litrally melts. But I can go 1 mile down the road to the river park and walk to my hearts content. And the distances on their map are wrong too. I just drove to one of the spots and they overestimated it by about 50%. Yet this site will list a place in the middle of the urban area as having a really high score. Sure – if you don’t walk (at least more than 100 feet.)

    7. Thanks for the link. The itty bitty town I live in out in the boonies has a score of 51.

    8. My score was 0 out of 100! I live smack in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch farmland the benefit is there are alot of Amish selling their own eggs and produce!

    9. Too funny. My neighborhood gets an 83, which is definitely true on the surface: I’m close to all kinds of things. Unfortunately, it’s not the BEST neighborhood (though it’s near some nice ones), and as a woman, I don’t feel safe walking around alone. *sigh* I end up driving to the grocery store – a half mile away. 🙁

    10. My score was a 32 and we have all kinds of grocery and restaurants close by but it’s decidedly pedestrian unfriendly because we would have to walk along Rt. 40 with limited sidewalks and crosswalks where even though the speed limit is 50, people drive 60 and above.

    11. I live out in the county in a small community around a lake. I walk or bike the lake daily with my 2 year old son. I want to bike into town (approx. 8 mins driving) but I’m a bit nervous about it. I checked out that site just for fun to see the rating my location got… yeah 0 out of 100 and I totally agree with that. I will work up the courage though to bike into town soon.

    12. This is funny, I didn’t look mine up, but I know that mine would have a horrible score since I live in the country and the nearest town is 8 miles away!

    13. Hmmm. My address gets a “4”. Seems legit. We’re “car close” to lots of stuff, but limited sidewalks or rights-of-way make walking sketchy.

  4. I’d love to ditch the car completely and walk everywhere, but my husband would have a fit like an 8 year old.

    1. Then you get to do what you would do with an eight-year-old throwing a temper tantrum… walk away!

  5. I love walking! My hubby and I were just talking on how times have changed. We often walk over to our local WF if we need to pick up just a few things but really I do not see it ideal to walk with 2 small ones 2 miles! I also love watching this neighbor of ours walk to get her weekly groceries. She even carries the bags on the way back – no cart just arm strength!

    Only if we could live in the Grok time! or even Jesus! I mean he walked everywhere. We walked the desert for 40 days — AMAZING! 🙂 Wish I could do that! 🙂

    Great post!

  6. I feel much the same as Steven above, but I get that feeling on Dublins cobblestoned streets in my VFF’s. The inconsistancy under foot just stretches it all out nicely!

  7. I walk on my lunch break (~30minutes/1mi) but the summer heat is making it less attractive. I don’t like coming back to the office sweaty. I also try to walk about a mile in the evenings. And weekends are great for longer hikes.

    1. Have any staircases in your building? I’m in NC and the heat has been terrible already this year and only getting hotter. I make sure to do a couple “laps” on the stairs in my building (only 3 stories but it’s something) a day just to keep my blood flowing. Makes a big difference.

      1. I second that comment on the heat. It has jumped to August here in NC already. I go out twice a day for ten minutes, so not too sweaty. Try to break it up

  8. Mark a great post and just what I needed. I’ve lost 50 lbs so far with just primal diet and this is a great way to transistion into working out. Thank you.

  9. Got Nike Frees about 3 months ago and had to re-learn how to walk with a more mid to forefoot strike. Now when I put on my more conventional shoes I feel like I am wearing cement shoes.

    My next “steps” are some VFFs and some Sanuk sandals…and to figure out what to wear in Alberta at -40 that doesn’t feel like a boat!

    1. Maybe should have mentioned that I (and my wife and 2 Westies) walk my daughter to school each morning (about 20′ round trip) and we typically get at least another 30′ walk in later. Yesterday we had 20′ in the am and then 2×30′ later in the day.

      1. I wouldn’t recommend running in the Free’s, but they’re a good walking or gym show

  10. Walking feeds my brain. I don’t know how to explain it, but the more I walk the happier I get.
    And when my leg bones hurt from all the walking or hiking I’ve done all day I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

    Bicycling or swimming doesn’t give me that feeling at all.

  11. This is one of my favorite of your posts, Mark! I don’t own a car or a bike, so I do lots of walking every day – in addition to working out! I’ve always gotten a kick out of folks who drive to the gym to get on a treadmill – gotta love ’em!

  12. I got to spend almost all last weekend completely barefoot. It was really great, and a lot of fun. In addition to this, it’d be a great idea to look at the mechanics of running, also. POSE method seems to work best for barefooters (or near barefooters). It’s really interesting to realize and feel how much easier running gets when you lean your chest forward and let gravity help you move.

    I’ve been using barefoot analog shoes for almost two years now, and they’ve been fantastic. I am a big fan of Merrell’s new “glove” series. They’re seriously comfortable and are pretty much stealth barefoot shoes. Especially handy for someone that has some level of toe or foot dysfunction, or just can’t stand the feel of things between their toes.

    Another thing to look at when improving the mechanics of your gait (too many hours/years/decades sitting in front of a TV or computer) is mobilityWOD. Kevin Starrett does a fantastic job of explaining the why, how, and what’s of increasing your range of motion as well as improving the mechanics of how you walk, lift, or do just about anything. He spends a LOT of time focusing on the legs (hip flexors, ankle ROM and flexibility, etc. VERY highly recommended.

    1. Correction: I said Kevin Starrett runs mobilityWOD. It’s really KELLY Starrett. Apologies to ‘kstar’.

  13. Walking has been a big, big part of me going primal. Before, at 280+, I was getting plantar fasciitis. It was brutal to walk at all, let alone walking enough to count as exercise.

    Once I committed to going primal I looked into how to walk barefoot (the Stroll, as you describe it above), and adopting that method, even in shoes, helped me get past the plantar flare-ups. Losing weight made them less frequent and milder, too. Now I walk quite a bit more — as exercise, and as practice to re-train good walking habits.

    I’m a big fan of the pedometer as a tool, too. Not very Grok-like, but it helps to have a stride-count to think of as a “score” for the day. I immediately went from less than 5k strides a day to 8-10k. Pretty useful, for a widget the size of a pack of gum.

    1. I seem to have all of the same problems that you did (palntar fascitis etc) is there a place you can point me to learn how to do “the stroll”?

      1. I believe this was the most useful bit I read:
        http://nymag.com/health/features/46213/
        (Big article/ad for minimalist shoes, but there’s a good infographic on page 5)

        I seem to remember doing some searching in Nikolay’s “Free the animal” blog, too.

        Basically, for me, it was:
        1) Shorten my stride dramatically. (If I really am in a hurry, I just hustle a bit faster.) This keeps me from landing on the back of my heel and rolling through it. Instead the heel strikes more in the middle, very lightly, and just for a split second before rolling forward on to the balls of my feet and my toes.
        2) I found I was walking with my feet far apart and pronating my feet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pronating#Pronation_of_the_foot), so I started emphasizing walking with my feet further together. I actually bring the behind-foot forward and partially *around* the front one when walking (almost like a field sobriety test, but less-so.) This forces me to roll my weight forward along the outside of my foot, like it says in that infographic.

        I still get the odd bit of soreness in my feet, but it’s mild enough that I don’t mind “stretching it out” by taking a quick walk. (You know how PF is — it’s bad when you’ve been immobile for a while)

      2. I had problems with PF last summer when I jumped into minimal running with both feet – pun intended. Had to ho back to regular shoes for awhile and eased back into it with Nike Frees then easing into the Merrell barefoot shoes wearing them for short periods, then to work, then for longer runs (1 to 2 miles) and walks and no longer seem to have PF issues.

  14. I agree that so many people are daunted by the small stuff, particularly the sense of scale. When I lived a mile off campus, getting people to come over was difficult. Then, I moved farther off campus to a more walkable neighborhood, and I have to do virtually all the commuting because two miles is “too far”, even for those with bikes. But that being said, I walk everywhere, time permitting, and only bike or bus as a last resort.

  15. Great post. Walking is my favourite activity (rock climbing a close second) and should be done daily for at least an hour in my opinion. I try to aim for 2. It’s the most natural thing a human being can do, and it just feels right to walk in the woods with nature. It’s not hard to sell me the simple things Mark, they’re the best and easiest to follow!

  16. Did anyone see that documentary (maybe it was Human Planet) about how they teach children in Africa to walk much sooner than they do in Western countries?

    I thought that was pretty cool.

    1. I heard about that in my psychology class! Psychologists think it might have to do with how mothers carry their children. Here, our babies are in strollers, and we tend to carry them sideways. In Africa, women wrap their babies in a cloth so they’re upright and attached to their mothers’ backs, looking over their shoulders as they walk.

  17. Hi Mark,

    enjoyed your post. Talking about form is part of perhaps the most important part of walking- mindfulness and relaxation. I hope everyone stops to smell the roses on their walks 🙂

  18. I walk to the “corner” store when I need some quick food (as opposed to our CSA which requires driving), and to our not so corner store about a mile away, uphill (both ways 🙂 ). Good exercise.

  19. Great post, but I’m wondering about the walking downhill part. Since I switched to Vibrams, I’ve found I prefer keeping my weight forward on the balls of my feet, even when going downhill. So long as my knees are bent slightly – but not so much that they extend beyond my toes – I find it much more comfortable.

    Anybody else like that?

    1. Yes, I know what you mean. As you pick up speed, I think your body naturally wants to move to the balls of the feet. I make a concerted effort to land on my mid-forefoot – think just slightly behind/off the ball of the foot. It feels a little strange, at first, but as I’ve gotten better/more consistent at it, I find that it gives me better control and/or stability through the step. Particularly when moving downhill.

  20. Start tomorrow? No! Now! Fellow groks and groketts… walk now! Are you on lunch break? Walk. Skip lunch and walk. Get into the habit NOW. Do NOT put if off another day. If you do you may forget about it.

    Ask your boss if you can take a quick 5 minute walk. Can’t do it? Walk as soon as you get home. I don’t care if you have to be somewhere. Cuz guess what? You don’t be 5 minutes late. Just walk. Even for a minute.

    I walk daily. On purpose. I love it. I sometimes walk in silence. Most of the time I am talking up a storm to myself. I am simply thinking out loud.

    I am the most productive when I am walking. Its aamzing but its true.

    Most of the time I read when I am walking. Why? Mycomprehension improves ten fold. Like Mark says, our genes expect us to walk. A lot.

    Sit down with your boss and make him let you walk for 5 minutes every our at work. I GUARANTEE your performance will skyrocket.

    Try it. You have NOTHING to lose. Everything.

    Walking is awesome. I love to run too. Walking is better.

    Lucky me is going to Harry Potter world this weekend. I’ll be sitting in a plane for 3 hours but then I will be walking pretty much all day long for 3 straight days. Yay!

    Walk. Now. Go!

    1. Hell no I’m not walking right now.
      The rain’s coming down like cowpiss on a flat rock.

      Seems that the only overcast is in Idaho and Montana, rest of the US is sunny…odd.

    2. I always walk during my lunch break. It’s an entire 30 minutes of walking and getting fresh air! Why would I want to go sit again at a table when all I’ve done sit at my desk? Walking everyday at lunch seems to help with my muscle soreness from Cross Fit and other exercises. It helps keep my muscles loose!

    3. Nope!
      I walk for a living (about 15 miles a day outdoors) and I had a whole week off!

      But then again, what does someone like me do on vacation? Go hiking…

      Never mind.

  21. I’ve recently gotten into the routine of walking a mile or two with my 5 month old in a sling most nights of the week. It gives us both a chance to wind down and gives me an extra little workout boost. She sleeps better since I started doing this, too, which is a definite plus.

  22. I have an “ADHD” Collie that needs to burn off energy, so I “kill two birds with one stone”, I walk him on a 12 block circuit most nights after work and we walk at a local State Park for 2.5 miles most weekend days. It helps him mentally and physically and it helps me mentally and physically. It is a win/win situation.

    I have put a pair of Vibram fivefinger shoes on lay away and when I get them I’ll add walking “barefoot” to the walks.

    1. If you want to walk more, as in every day, GET A DOG. Whatever the season or weather, my dog requires walking every day. She doesn’t care if it is a frigid, crystal clear dark December morning with the Moon still shining at 6:00 am or a warm drizzly summer afternoon – she wants to go OUT!

      Living with a dog – one of the most primal promoting things you can do to improve your health and well being.

      – requires daily walking/exercise
      – promotes play
      – decreases stress when you pet and stroke a loving,happy dog
      – silly behavior makes you laugh

      1. I 100% agree. 🙂 No matter the weather, the time of day, or how much I’d rather flop on the couch and watch tv, I have to get my two dogs out. Before work, after work, and before bed. And yes, they make me laugh every day. There is a reason that man and dog have been evolving together for so long!

  23. Walking IS my life. I spend a good 3 hours a day walking on most days and up to 8 hours on days where I need to get stuff.
    Just yesterday I spent 4 hours walking to buy a sledgehammer.

  24. This whole article was quite, quite helpful.
    At 21, I only realized 6 months ago that not only do I have fallen arches, but that they’re the cause of the ridiculous amounts of neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee, etc . . . pain and imbalance I’ve been experiencing for years now! Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time not only walking, but learning for the first time in my life how to actually walk properly. This article answered some questions I’ve either been unsure of how to ask, or felt silly asking. Thanks so much!

    1. Also, I can’t stress enough how much the mobilityWOD website has helped me. Be sure to check it out, as he talks about neutral positioning and how to stretch/massage your musculature to help your body re-learn some of that neutral positioning that goes away when your arches fall.

  25. Funny you mention the bit about scope. I felt like walking during my lunch break yesterday. I used google to see how far Trader Joes is from my work, and saw that it was a mile. My first instinct was “man, thats kinda far”. Then I snapped out of it, and walked there – barefoot, at a nice combination of a brisk and leisurely stroll. With shopping, I made it back to work in 47 minutes, and really enjoyed getting some sun at the same time!

    1. Our perception of distance has really become skewed. I work in bike/ped planning and research, and we are trying to figure out ways to help re-align people’s perceptions – because most of our daily trips are less than 2 miles, and that is easily done on foot or by bike!

  26. Hi Mark,. What about observing our biomechanics at walking?..I have learned until very late how to parallel my footprints as I walk. Observe a cat while walking they almost draw a straight line. It took some time, but it is possible. Thanks,lmb (mexico).

    1. I’ve been experimenting with this too Luis Martinez, and I’ve found it really easy to do with a bit of practice. Don’t know if it’s the proper way too walk but it feels good and I can actually get a brisk pace going and still keep my footsteps inline. Foxes also walk like this and they look very graceful, they also usually trot at a good pace rather than “strolling”.

  27. i run a small retail store so i’m on my feet literally all day long. plus my wife and i walk 3ish miles(we dont really care to count) about 3-4 times a week. i went barefoot in dec 2010 and haven’t looked back. my legs are alot stronger, my posture is better, the chronic upper back pain i’ve had for years is gone. also, as a martial artist, i’ve noticed a dramatic increase in overall balance and leg coordination. barefoot rules! oh, and so does walking!

  28. Walking has become for me what a cup of coffee or a shower is to a lot of other people: it’s how I wake up.
    I walk my dog ~5:30am every day before going to work. No vitamin D at that time, but it’s still relatively cool out in FL if you wake up before the sun.
    On the weekends (we start ~6am), our walks are longer and usually we don’t finish until the sun is up. It’s great to watch the world come alive in the sunlight. 8)

  29. Great post! My hubby and I are always preaching the benefits of simply walking. And we love our new Vibrams that we learned about when we found your site recently. Thanks for all the amazing information and everything you do!

  30. Check out Esther Gokhale’s magnificent book “8 steps for a pain free back” for walking instructions. Don’t walk, glide!

    1. I recently started having heel pain in my right foot. I walk a brisk 3 miles a day. I am wondering what the recommendations are for foot wear. Maybe I am wearing the wrong type?

  31. It didn’t make sense to walk barefoot at first. Our landscape isn’t the same as it was back then.

    Back then how we used to walk barefoot treading over twigs and other debris on the natural ground is now replaced by a nice flat cement-paved pathways to get to our destination.

    I see the shape of my feet, and the curvature on my feet make sense for unpaved grounds becuase its usually uneven but would its design make sense for a flat surface?

    At least when walking on natural ground it is soft but sidewalks are rough, just running on it cuts my skin (not always). So in the end, perhaps these modern shoes have a purpose, to be a replacement for walking on uneven surfaces, since it adjust to the way my feet are formed.

    Then i bought vibrams, that changed a lot, i mean a lot! i wear them quite often now, would wear them more if i had enough toe-socks to accomidate it but i feel lighter on my feet. Only problem is that they’re not designed for prolonged periods of standing, neither do i think prolonged moments of standing is part of our natural way since i read that we used to always be on the move.

    Our bodies are highly adaptable, what started as an uncomfortable feeling with these vibrams is now more a relaxing experience but is it really becuase it works or just one more thing i’ve forced my mind to deal with?

    Does barefoot walking still apply to today’s landscape? It’s a question that still stalks me to this day, replies will be greatly appreciated, even more if Mark sisson helps me out with this plauging question, not to depreciate any one elses reply.

    1. In my experience, barefooting on sidewalks is just as easy as barefooting on dirt. In some ways, it’s even easier; the force of your stride is not absorbed into the ground. It is instead returned to your calf muscles, which work sort of like springs to recapture the energy.

      The one problem, as you mentioned, is that the surface is rather scratchy. If you’re used to wearing shoes, like I was, it will probably take months before your soles are thick enough to go long distances on concrete or asphalt. However, it does happen. I’ve gone from wearing shoes all the time, to wearing vibrams all the time, to running up to six miles barefoot on pavement, and my feet never get cut anymore.

      The only remaining hazards of barefooting in the urban landscape are large shards of glass (very rare), tree seeds and large rocks (a little less rare but easy to avoid) and dog waste (appallingly common).

      Carlos, I would encourage you to try barefooting on pavement once you get used to the vibrams. Just walking a mile or so at first is a good start. Then very gradually you can increase the distance and the speed.

  32. I don’t think the link you showed is a human footprint?
    If you look how the toe’s shaped, it’s bent inwards. this shows up on people who have grown up wearing toe-covering shoes.

  33. Love the mental boost gained while walking. I’m so much more aware of surroundings. Thanks, Mark, for this topic!

  34. I got rid of my car a few weeks ago because I choose to walk or ride my skateboard everywhere. I walk many miles a day, and I actually just won a gift card and a feature article in my local co-op’s newspaper for alternative transportation.

    I think going to the store for what you plan to eat that day is a great way to get in a ton of walking. I only eat twice a day (lunch and dinner) so I will walk to the grocery store in the morning to buy what I’m cooking for lunch, and then I’ll walk to the store later that evening again for what I’m cooking for dinner. Other than my meat CSA and a few condiments, I don’t really keep anything in my refrigerator anymore.

  35. I’m wondering if Grok had thick padding on the bottom of his feet.
    If we walk for hours over rough terrain wouldn’t the bottom of the feet be bloody and totally banged up?
    I know for sure the Neanderthal already had ‘shoes’. They’ve also found leather shoes/booties made by american indians about 5000 years ago.

    I wonder at which time (or era) mankind started to craft ‘shoes’.
    Anyone know?

    1. I know the bottoms of my feat are hideous by normal cultural standards. I do amost of my exercising barefoot or on occasion in Zems. Either way I have calluses from hell and I love them, they keep my feet from hurting.

      An answer to your question. Probably, judging from personal experience, although I could be just as wrong as I may be right.

  36. Agreed. Barefoot is the way to go. I damaged my knee pretty bad, wearing sneakers incedentaly, and thought I was down for a good month. The solution- just took the shoes off and all those squats, deadlifts, runs,and jumps magically stopped hurting. My knee was a little stiff, but it’s finally back in full form and now I’ve gone from psuedo-barefoot exercise to all out barefoot exercise. People may stare as I’m sprinting and lunging the length of a football field, but it feels great. Also helps keep the athletes foot away.

    The only downside, my soles of my feet are a lovely shade of brown, no matter how hard I scrub them.

    I’m really going to be disapointed when winter rolls around. 🙁

  37. I walk everyday, an average of 3 to 4 miles, it has made dramatic changes to both mine and my wifes activity level. If you want to do the same, get an active dog :). I am up at 5:30 am every morning to start my hike wearing my 5 toes and usually get home around 7:00 am. to start my day.

  38. One thing I didn’t see mentioned is how instrumental owning a dog can be in putting more miles on your own “dogs.” Pun completely intended.

    Both my dog and I are so much happier when we get a walk in the morning and evening and he gives me that extra incentive I need to get off my ass and get the hell outside on some days.

  39. Flat soled super cheap thin Chinese shoes..4 miles on gravel and sand and dirt up hills and down…1 hour or less..3 times a week..and I walk to the post office..1/2 mile RT…IF you use thin soles or the gloves or moccasins..you will re-learn to walk without the impact damage!! Grok did protect his feet…especially in colder climates..and walking on 90-100 degree stuff barefoot is just plain DUMB..blisters on the sole of your foot are no fun(did that-ouwwwch!)..So walk..but do protect your feet when it is called for…This Grok knows how to walk…anyone for a few miles barefoot in the sand near the waterline?..
    GROK ON>>>

  40. Who cares about a computer score! Just step out your door and walk! Easy.

  41. When I was a kid I walked every day for hours because I was so bored. God married and that quit. But I never had the proper shoe wear. I’ll be getting my first pair of Vibram’s pretty soon when I leave the sticks and find a store to try on some KSO’s. A question about the Sanuk’s, which pair is recommended? Many, if not all, are quit padded. Maybe I’m looking at them in the wrong way. I need something that’s good for dress wear so any help there?

  42. At 300 plus pounds and having had 3 knee surgeries before the age of 21 (now 41)-walking is kinda hard for me. I love walking and when I wear a pedometer (getting 10,000 steps a day in) I instantly lose weight. Problem is my knee also starts to go. This has been really depressing to me. I am having trouble finding exercises that work for me and get the weight off. I am wondering if the way I walk (heal striking first) is part of the problem? I will have to experiment. Thanks Mark for all of your help and great ideas!!!

  43. I got stopped by police (sheriffs) last week in woodland hills for walking, they asked me if the reason Im walking is because I lost my drivers license 😉 I didnt need to explain as soon as he saw my skele toe shoes 🙂
    either way. I stop driving locally period. I go to grocery store walking, I go to barnes and noble to do my reading also walking, post office, walmart, park, etc.
    Im from europe and I used to walk when growing up every day. it was normal thing for us. in usa people tend to drive a lot out of habit more than anything. thinking they’re saving commute time. but when you think about it walking is really about discipline and time you devote to yourself to relax get a little exercise and clear your head without worrying you going to rear end someone. keep walking!

  44. This is an interesting topic. I just recently decided to sell my car. I realize this isn’t practical for most people but I was curious to see if I could go without one.

    I had thought about it for years and slightly preceded my move to the primal lifestyle.

    The transition has been a pretty easy one. I bike and walk most places now (I live in the city of Toronto so this is doable) and use ZIP car on the rare occasion I need it.

    Of course dating is a problem. Arriving on a bike and offering to give a gal a seat ride isn’t very romantic.

    Perhaps I need to come up with some Gromance Tips (Grok + romance).

    DD

  45. Among all the downsides of living in NYC, this is the biggest upside. I carry my groceries and my laundry to and fro, up and down stairs without even thinking about it. Walking two miles (each way) to our favorite ice cream spot is my husband’s idea of a romantic date. We may not be wholly primal, but we are wholly walkers. It really does make you feel good. I don’t even mind on days like today when it’s in the 90s and humid. At least a 30min stroll at lunch, that’s my feel-good rule. If I have an hour, I can make it to Central Park and have a wonderful time-out in relatively natural surroundings. Yay, walking!

  46. I walked first 4, then a minimum of 5 miles a day since may 9, 2010. Eating the primal diet, I have lost 90 pounds so far. And I lost those 90 the first 10 months.

  47. Love it! I’ve gone on long walks several times a week for years. Wherever I’ve lived all of the neighbors get to know me really quick because I’m the one they see walking by their house all the time. Now I have a son whose almost two and he’s come to expect an almost daily walk around the neighborhood. Walking was also my constant during my pregnancy: on days that I couldn’t do much else I could get out for some fresh air and waddle around. I wasn’t primal during my pregnancy and I really think walking had a lot to do with why my pregnancy was so healthy and my weight stayed in check.

    On another note I was stuck behind a school bus the other day that was dropping off kids who lived IN SIGHT of their high school/middle school. C’mon! Really?!? Is THIS what my tax dollars are paying for?!? *groan*

  48. Unless you’re climbing a hill, the glutes aren’t all than engaged in walking. A very slight displacement of our center of gravity led by our long-range senses (sight, hearing, smell) takes us in the direction we want to go. We shift support from one foot to the other as our ilio-psoas engages to swing each leg forward.

    Most of the effort in walking is slow-twitch, red-fibre, postural, fat-metabolizing. Only as we speed up–or deal with hills–do our bigger muscles (glute, quadriceps etc.) join in.

    This is why bipedalism enabled us to migrate over the whole Earth so quickly. We are gravity-propelled, fat metabolizing fiends. No other land animal has anything like our effeciency.

    Check out ‘Man, the tottering biped’ by Philip Tobias, for more background. Or have some Alexander lessons.

  49. Mark – I love walking, I grew up walking with my Grandmother all over the place since she didn’t drive and they only had one car. Weather permitting I walk between 5-8 miles daily (3 miles at lunch 45 min)(2-5 in the evening with my walking partner dog, Cocoa). I get bummed though when the weather is bad, I just can’t do the treadmill.

  50. Just did a post on this. My clients all stare at me in disbelief when I tell them that walking is a viable workout. I typically recommend 15-20 miles a week walking in addition to workouts. I get the same response every time, “Wait, I can walk? I don’t have to jog?”

  51. Great post, but one comment – gluts arre NOT made for walking. Try it: walk and feel your butt. It won’t contract at all.

    Gluts are for running!

    1. I agree. I walk a lot. Always have my whole life. Natural gait. And my glutes and back of thighs have always been my problem areas.

    2. I think the idea is that they should contract, however slightly. Mine certainly does when I walk (and run).

  52. 5 mile round trip walk to work every day… It seemed so long at first, but stream some NPR through the headphones and the walk flies right by! The easiest 500 calories burnt and immeasurable mood boost one can get!

    1. If you are walking near traffic, avoid headphones. You need to hear the cars as well as see them, especially near intersections.

  53. In addition to walking 1-2 miles five days a week. I also climb 80 flights of stairs two days a week.

  54. I spend a fair amount of time re-training my patients to walk with a natural gait as a means to manage or eliminate chronic pain.

    One problem that often needs to be addressed in modern life is leg-length inequality. Grok walked on uneven, yielding surfaces so a little bit of unevenness was pretty much of no consequence. Standing and walking on hard, level surfaces will often place stress on knees, hips, pelvis and spine due to lack of symmetry.

    Take the time to walk on uneven ground, barefoot if you can.

  55. I walk about 30 minutes a day in the morning. Having a dog was my motivation to walk because I was bored to walk by myself in my neigborhood where no one walks. Thanks for the article because I will try to incorporate your recommendations into my walking technique.

  56. Having a dog the past three years has been great. My dog, Roy (a lovely yellow lab), needs at least an hour of walking every day. It’s been great for the sake of walking, getting outside, and just sharing that time with him. I love letting him off leash when I can so he can be a dog and get in touch with his genes.

  57. Great, wonderful, awesome sauce! In any given 24 hr. period, I walk anywhere from 3 to 10 miles, and I feel amazing. The way people jog, going mile-after-mile to wherever they land is how I walk, only I plan a useful destination, like the library or grocery store across town. There is no easier way, IMHO, to get really comfortable inside of your body and gain freer movement and unity of mind, body, and spirit than by walking it out, baby!

  58. I work in an office all day and just started going for a walk everyday at lunch (well almost everyday). Its a great way to break up the day and get some sun!!

  59. I love walking. If I don’t get out at least once a day, I feel restless.

    I walked home from school. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I got kicked off the school bus for laughing too much (poor grumpy bus driver!) So we walked home everyday. I grew up in Hollywood and lived in the hills. My school was down in the flats, and we had to walk along creep-filled, dirty Sunset and Hollywood Blvds. to her house (we were 14 at the time and made fun of every pimp who tried to recruit us! It was fun!). After playing a video game or two, I’d continue on my way home, up and down hills (Outpost Drive to Woodrow Wilson – I know, too many details!), I just checked the distance and it was 4.5 miles!

    Remembering this reminded me how much it was and will continue to be a part of my life. Thanks Mark!

  60. I love the timing of this post! I just walked to the nearest grocery store earlier today to get laundry detergent; that was great because not only did I walk, but I was lugging big jugs with me on the way back. Walking is definitely something I’m hoping to do much more of, especially as the weather’s been picking up where I live. Great timing! Now I want to get out and walk again, even if I don’t have an errand this time.

  61. I love how I see this straight after coming back from walking the dog for a couple of miles, and organising a hike up the Malverns with my buddy tomorrow.
    No one in my house can drive, including me, so I’ve walked pretty much everywhere I needed to go locally my whole life. Hurray for walking! =D

  62. Great post. A few years ago I came across http://www.chiwalking.com, which helped me deal with knee problems during my walks. I did not realize at the time that I’d overextend the lower portion of my leg during my stride, thus straining the knees. Or that I failed to engage all the supportive muscles around the joint to stabilize the knee during motion. Easy fix. Small tweaks make a big difference, for example keeping ankles and lower legs as relaxed as possible. Seems counter-intuitive, but works. Chiwalking makes walking easier and more efficient. There is also Chirunning for the runners out there. I can highly recommend it.

  63. Does anyone else find it difficult or painful in any way to walk long distances on concrete with minimalist shoes? I sometimes start feeling a cold, prickly pain in the arches of my feet after a couple of miles… possibly an indication of plantar fascitis. I really like minimalist footwear (many shoes cause my more foot or knee pain than non-shoes), but it seems like they all have their downsides.

  64. It’s amazing how much effort some things take in this culture. I moved here from Europe – I used to walk everywhere without even thinking about it or having to call it ‘primal’ or anything. It was just part of life – walking to work, market, restaurants; and you walked in all kinds of shoes depending on what place/event you were going to. Here, depending on where you live, you have to make extra time for an activity that should really be a part of a daily routine. People DRIVE to a park so they can walk for 1/2 hour…

  65. So my 5 miles in my VFFs along Ship Creek in Anchorage, AK + 2 miles to go get some fresh Copper River salmon fillets yesterday was a good thing or a bad thing? 😉

  66. I’m the corporate responsibility manager for North America in my company. I came up with a fundraising challenge that requires each person to walk 3 miles a day for six months while raising money for a charity. Initially, I wanted to make it 5 miles a day but I knew that our mostly sedentary workforce would mostly not volunteer for something that sounded so daunting. The idea of walking 3 miles sounded like a huge amount to most people.

    In the end I got almost 70 people walking for a charity and a surprising amount of people are clocking five miles a day ON PURPOSE! I’m secretly hoping that after six months most of them will keep it up and more.

    I live in Houston so the incentives for walking are pretty low – no scenery, suffocating humidity and heat for half the year, etc. I walk for my dog and thank goodness, too. I’m walking longer now that I have the pedometer and challenge to support. And even without the incentives I am enjoying it more the more I do it, too.

  67. I live in an urban area and love to walk everywhere – I only have to refill my car’s gas tank maybe once a month.

    Walking (and occasional yoga) were the only exercise I did while pregnant. My baby will be 4 months old next week and I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight, in large part thanks to walking. I live at the top of a hill in Seattle, so no matter which direction I go I’m climbing up and own hills. My baby loves to look around at trees and houses from her carrier, and I get the added weight of carrying her around.

    Personally, I loathe exercise. I hate gyms. But I love walking and it keeps me in great shape.

  68. When i was in Ireland (German myself) i had to give up walking and cycling and was dependent on my car all the time.
    Out of town you needed a car because the streets were so damn small with high grass on the side, therefore too dangerous to walk on foot.

  69. I just met an 86 year old man in the park, who was walking his dog (as I was walking mine) and he told me, quite passionately “Never go without having a dog!! These walks morning and night have kept me young and healthy!!” He really attributed his amazing health (he looked 65) to having a dog and walking him morning and night, for decades…
    Because we have a dog in the city, I will walk about 2 hours a day to keep the little guy fit, and it is a great motivator to have to walk to keep him happy 🙂

  70. Great post — I’m thinking of trying out the 5-toe shoes. I do walk a lot, especially at work on lunch hour. One note…if you have a large dog that drools (as we do), you will soon give up walking barefoot inside the house. Ick.

  71. Remind me of a Steven Wright joke; “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” 🙂

  72. I have a back yard so usually we just let our 3 dogs run free off leash, but I have recently been taking them for a walk every evening. It’s a good way to de-stress from my day, and bond with my dogs. I’m trying to slowly increase the pace/distance but I have to do it slowly since one of my dogs in rather old.

  73. I’ve found that downhill walking over dirt here in southern california is best done by landing on toes first…. keeps your feet from sliding out from under you like stepping on a banana peel.

  74. My mother always walked a lot so growing up we all did as well and still do. It was always funny over the decades to watch the periodic walking fads come and go. For a while there’d be a lot of people out in their fitness clothes for a few months. Then the fad would end and we’d be the only ones. And people would always assume there was a car broken down somewhere and stop to offer help.

    Now 72, my mother lives in the far north west Wisconsin, yet walks every day unless there’s severe weather, twice a day or more in summer when days are long. She weaves around the blocks by her house so that she is always going up or down slight hills. And a few days a week she goes straight up the big steep hill, then wanders around the very hilly neighborhood at the top as she works her way back down.

    I live in a rare walkable are of Houston where I can and do walk to a supermarket, Blockbuster, a movie theater and restaurants. Or at least I did before I got the dog. Now I wish more places were dog friendly so I can still walk to do my errands.

    I never change into fitness clothes and shoes to do this. I just head out in my regular clothes. My brother does as well, but thinks if he wore some kind of workout outfit, he’d look like a yuppie, but in his regular clothes he suspects people think he looks like a vagrant passing through their neighborhood.

  75. Wonderful post. There is an additional advantage of walking barefoot that is rarely appreciated.

    Our feet are exquisite sensory organs. In fact, they have the same tactile sensitivity as our hands and fingers. This is for a reason.

    When you wear shoes all the time, it’s kind of like wearing earplugs — you’re missing out on a whole sensory universe. Wearing vibrams is more like wearing earmuffs — you’re starting to hear a few things that you never noticed before. But going barefoot is like removing the earmuffs entirely. Feeling the ground beneath your bare feet, once they are properly adapted, is an incredible sensory experience, and it will stimulate your brain in ways you never knew before.

    For me, this is one of the greatest delights of barefooting: feeling all the different textures and temperatures of my urban environment. Rough asphalt; smooth asphalt; sidewalks; they all have a different “melody” to them. The seasons bring different kinds of debris: flower petals; seeds; fallen leaves.

    There is truly a whole universe underneath our feet that I never suspected when I wore shoes all the time.

    Once you get used to this new sensory universe, you don’t have to worry as much about stepping on something painful, twisting your ankle, etc. Your foot will feel an obstacle and react appropriately before you even have time to think about it.

    Nowadays, walking in shoes feels like walking around blindfolded. I am seriously pissed that I can’t go everywhere barefoot. Curse the prejudiced merchants who insist on footwear: my feet are cleaner than most people’s soles, because I watch where I step!

    1. Good info.

      Our feet have over 700,000 nerve endings. I was told to never put socks on my baby (unless absolutely necessary) because she will learn and develop faster as she kicks around with her bare feet.

      Yet I am still hesitant to walk around my neighborhood barefoot …

      1. Cheri, you got good advice! We follow the same approach with our 19-month-old. He is my primal role model in many ways, one of which is his love of going barefoot, and his determination to rip off any shoes or socks that we do put on him.

        Walking around the neighborhood barefoot can be lots of fun. I definitely get some funny looks, and once in a while even a lecture from a total stranger about how supposedly unhealthy it is. I’m always polite but internally I’m rolling my eyes. (I have never had more than a small scratch, nor have I contracted any diseases or parasites, despite living in a neighborhood that seems to have more dogs than people.)

        Indeed, going barefoot and learning to watch my step has made me realize that most people wearing shoes, who are not really paying attention to where they put their feet, are stepping in all sorts of biohazards which they then unknowingly track all over their homes.

        I hope you will take the plunge someday and try a barefoot stroll around the neighborhood. It can be a liberating experience!

  76. I used to work in a small strip shopping center not connected to the other nearby shopping centers where the food was. So driving to get something for lunch involved getting into a car hot as an oven, pulling out on a 6 lane highway to drive to where ever, but most likely close enough that the AC would never cool off the car and most likely involving sitting at many red lights. Then in addition to all that, having to sit waiting for a chance to cross several lanes of traffic to turn in to the parking lot.

    You could walk much faster and skip the oven part. Even on the hottest day it was more pleasant and involved less sweat than getting in the oven and driving. I would tell my coworkers this all the time. They would smile and nod, but no one else ever walked.

  77. Huh. My neighborhood scored a 9 — ?!? No idea why — unless the score is based on location relative to desintations – ? It is a ‘burb, aside from that it’s really an easy place to walk around.

  78. G’day from Brisbane, Australia! I usually go for a walk on my lunch break, but as of today, I’m going to get off the train 1 station early, so I can walk more. Here in the city, there’s two stations. Also, I’m pretty keen about looking at these vibram shoes that I keep hearing about on this site. I originally thought they looked a lil silly, but now I understand their purpose.

  79. Love the post. I live in New York City, and unless you’re leaving your home borough (Manhattan)walking is absolutely the best form of transit. For 20+ years I’ve been making a 3-mile trek to work every day and feel all the better for it. And I enjoy it. Not the barefoot thing though. It’s in the 90s here and baked concrete isn’t so foot friendly. In the winter… well it’s winter. Best, SL

  80. Walking is one of the single least appreciated physical activities that is accessible to virtually everyone. We definitely need more walking in our daily lives. I try to get out for a walk each day, and I bring my family on a hike once a week.

  81. I have a pedometer in my pocket at all times. It seems the constant reminder … and the goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day … is all the motivation I need.

  82. solvitur ambulando:
    walking solves everything
    it is solved by walking http://bit.ly/mzfuST

    I’m 60 & had a barefoot childhood – mostly barefoot during k-8, enforced footwear years 9-12. I am barefoot as often as I can be. I have tough soles.

  83. My grandfather walked every day…and I know why. Having 2 dogs I have a great reason to walk them as well.

    In the book the 4 Hour Body, TF mentions a world class sprinting coach having his sprinters walk briskly for 15 min for base conditioning…that should tell you something!

  84. Wow, at first I thought this article was an utter waste of time. Then I realized that there are probably people out there who either don’t walk or don’t know how to walk. I’m fortunate enough to live in a pedestrian friendly city and walk or bike everywhere. Not having a car certainly helps too!

  85. ya gotta love those who wait with their turn signals on for a parking spot while you park across the lot and pass them still waiting on your way into the store. I roll on the ground laughing.

  86. I live in a small town in Japan which, unlike the rest of the country, is not really conductive to walking (I have to drive to the grocery store.) However, I still get out and walk around for the fun of it. Glad it sounds like I’m on the right track!

    However, there’s no way I’m giving up shoes. I love my Red Wing boots to death and they’re staying my shoes of choice until they’re busted to hell and back!

  87. Great post! I help run the GCC a pedometer based programme that encourages people from all around the world to walk more! This year we have 130,000 people involved in teams of 7 doing over 11,000 steps every day. Considering the research shows that the average corporate worker only does 3,000 a day this is pretty impressive numbers! I love the stories that we get through about people that didn’t realise how much they would love walking and they hadn’t realised that the shops they usually drive to are actually easier to walk to (no parking issues)! The fact that the GCC gives people a competitive reason to walk (or cycle or swim) too allows people that would usually say ‘walking’s a waste of time’ to discover the joy of it while having some friendly rivalry with their friends or work mates. Walking Rocks!

  88. Wow! I got a score of “0”!! I understand because I do live in the country. But the upside is I have a great place to just walk for enjoyment! I just got to worry about the critters! lol! 🙂

  89. One trick to squeezing in a long walk is to save a “to-do” item for the weekend and use it as a reason to walk to the store. Spend four hours walking. It’s fine. I’m only 30, but my legs still do what they did when I was 12. Don’t let them rot!

    Otherwise, just go look for bugs in puddles and such. It’s amazing what can live in a lush seasonal puddle…

  90. I just bought my Vibram KomodoSport’s today. I have them on right now. My wife is getting a pair tomorrow….they are awesome. Mark, you should buy stock in Vibrams, alot of folks are buying them b/c of you. The KomodoSports are good for your first pair…their bottoms are little bit thicker than the Sprints or others. I am pumped..start primal living when my book comes in tomorrow…all this just makes sense.

  91. “Whether via buses, trains, cars…”
    I had a private chuckle, down here in San Antonio the bus company name is ‘Via’

  92. I love walking, and I love evolution. Sometimes I wonder what Grok’s pace was like, how purposeful his/her walking was, and how rough his terrain was that he/she had to walk on. Certaintly there wasn’t perfectly mowed grass!

  93. I remember when I studied in the US that what I thought was most depressing about the experience (even though it on the whole was awesome) was how unsuited it was to walking. Roads lacking pavements, aggressive drivers, even the stop signal to let pedestrians cross felt aggressive compared to what I was used to.

    Nothing was scaled to walking, everything was scaled to cars, the entire society seemed to accommodate cars rather than people.

    Being back home, I do a lot of walking. I walk to the train to get to work, I walk to and from the store, I walk in the park on my lunch break, I walk to my garden plot. Now that it’s summer I’ll take a leisurely stroll in the evening with the boyfriend.

  94. Ha! I got an 8! They must not consider the one mile walk on the beach to connect to the bike path to Paia walkable….I think it is divine!

  95. As a clinical exercise physiologist in cardiac and pulmonary rehab, I read this post with mixed emotions. I applaud the encouragement for folks to get up and move, but thanks to the lack of activity in our modern society, my business just keeps getting brisker all the time. Oh, and a special thank you to the tobacco companies! Seriously, though, I wish everyone would walk as far as possible as often as possible, take the stairs, stand during the workday as much as possible, whatever they can do.

    It never ceases to amuse me when patients come in to rehab complaining about how far they had to walk from the parking lot. “And you’re here to do what?”

  96. I love to walk (and sometimes jog), but for years could not do so for very long without getting horrible cramps in my feet later that day/evening. I was told I have high arches, so now have orthotics in my sneakers. They feel great and I no longer get cramps. (unless I am walking barefoot on an uneven ground such as the beach)

    Based on this info, am I out of luck when it comes to all this barefoot walking you guys are talking about?

    Thanks for any insight.

  97. I’ve always adored walking, and have done so on a fairly regular basis since childhood. I invested in some Vibrams a few weeks back and have to say I’m in love – being used to padding around at home and in the garden barefoot meant it wasn’t too major a transition, but the problem I have now is that, not being allowed to wear them for work and doing a job which involves being on my feet 7 hours + per working day, I now have to switch between conventional and barefoot shoes, and boy do I notice the difference! Despite my work shoes being well-fitted and “comfortable”, I always end up with aches and pains in my arches, Achilles’s, ankles, calves, knees, hamstrings, hips and back, without fail. When I’d got used to my new Vibrams I decided to wear them to work and the difference was HUGE – just a small twinge in my arches, minimal pain in my dodgy knee, and minimal pain in my upper back – which for the length of time I’m on my feet is understandable, and a fantastic improvement. Then my boss insisted that I don’t wear them 🙁 But I make sure I get out for barefoot walks on my days off, and have absolutely no aches and pains, and I’m trying to find a way to be able to wear Vibrams to work.

    I’ve also noticed a change in my gait, striking with the mid-section of the heel, rolling along the outside edge and then across the ball of the foot, so that each toe comes down one after the other, with big toe landing last as I move forward and push off. It feels much more comfortable and natural, and I’d noticed I was doing this before reading this post, so good to know that my body is adapting correctly all by itself! I’ve also noticed that the ‘big toe last’ thing is helping my dodgy knee. OK so the knee cap is damaged, not a lot can change that, but all the inside edge tendons, ligaments and muscles are weakened. My worry when I first went barefoot was that I might aggravate the injury if I trod on unexpected uneven surface (eg stones) which would cause the foot and therefore leg to twist (which is what happens in shoes). But the change in my gait is actually strengthening the knee, so that when those uneven surfaces crop up, sure everything twists, but it’s a “good” twist that is painless and working everything involved in the motion, not a “bad” twist that causes damage.

    So, if I can just figure a way to be allowed to wear Vibrams to work, I’ll be pain-free as well as doing plenty of walking! 😉

  98. I don’t always go walking (though I do walk often), but I ride my bike almost daily. With gas prices on the rise once again, I find it hard for a college kid like myself to afford a tank of gas, while worrying about all the other costs of living and school.
    To relieve this stress, I use my old road bike as my primary form of transport around town. School is about 5 miles away, work is a 1.5 miles, grocery store about 2 miles.
    I also work at a garden center nursery, where I am constantly standing, squatting, lifting and moving plants and heavy pots, etc… I feel my movement bug gets satisfied pretty well.
    If I could only satisfy my wanderlust…

  99. Great article, walking works wonders for your health. it gets the blood pumping around the body and oxygen flowing.

    Drink plenty water to flush the system out as you walk.

    I think it must be the only free thing in life that we have left so go to it.

  100. I walk every day for at least a half hour once, twice, or three times, depending. I’ve always walked to get from a to b mostly because I was broke, but now that I’m old and make enough money to drive, I walk just to walk.
    I like to walk because you can see the sights. I like to look at buildings and people and catch glimpses of all sorts of interesting facts of life. I like to smell the smells, feel the breezes, the rain, the sun, see the changes of the seasons. Walking is nice for talking, and it’s especially nice for thinking. Walking is the rhythm and roll of cogitation and invention and thought experiments and memories and revelations. Sometimes it’s tiresome and wearying, if you’ve got a lot to carry and a long way to go, or if you’re in a big fat hurry and it’s super hot, but mostly it’s a great benefit. I’m not sure minimal shoes are the way to go on sidewalks and hot asphalt, but heels do mess up your gait.

  101. I use my tread desk. I get between 100 and 150 miles per month while working. If you are thinking about a standing desk, look into adding the treadmill under it. Takes some getting used to but once you do you can walk for hours and work doesn’t feel as draining.

  102. Thanks for this. I got an undiagnosed knee injury some odd years ago and never have been able to walk the same since, and my left leg circumducts slightly when I walk (hooks around in a small semi-circle before it lands, instead of lifting up and swinging straight forward). My knee is also starting to bother me while I’m walking and it seems to be getting worse. Walking has become very stressful for me because it’s psychologically distressing and physically very annoying and frustrating so I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to.

    P.S. I am pretty sure part of the injury was from doing Hindu squats. I can no longer do the ‘Western’ style squat at all and had to learn how to do the ‘Asian squat.’ Just throwing that out there because I don’t want anyone else doing the Hindu squats and hurting themselves. For my money, I’d avoid that exercise completely and stick to the heels-down squat. As far as I’ve observed it’s superior in every way and it’s also much safer.

    Anyway, my knee(s) got pretty messed up, but doing heels-down squats and modifying my gait has helped. Sleep posture too – the little things all add up and can make a big difference.

    It’s good to see another post dealing with these things. This really is valuable information – even though I no longer follow the Primal Blueprint I really appreciate a lot of the posts here and find it pretty exciting to see what’s coming up next. Thanks again for sharing.

  103. You know Mark – we do need to learn to walk again. Just as paleo/primal nutrition allows our bodies to feed naturally and as intended, walking is so very important … and walking properly, and naturally is crucial to a fulfilling life.

    I came in the other way – I came in through minimalist footwear and found paleo/primal nutritional approaches. I have huaraches (Steven Sashen’s Invisible Shoes and a couple of my own sourced rubber and tops) and VFF Treksports. Yes, I’m one of the Vibram Elites 🙂

    I love walking. I’m too big and too out of shape to run (at the moment), but I can walk and I can walk with some speed and conviction. I have paid careful attention to good form and walking correctly in minimalist footwear and I feel absolutely fantastic for doing so! It prompted me to re-consider my diet, which is very VERY good BTW, but just refine a couple of points.

    I am sure you are aware of J Stanton’s blog, but he has a particularly important point to make: it’s ACTIVITY! not exercise. Exercise is for prey! Activity is for people who are alive! Semantics, but an important point. Each evening after a day in at the office, I spend 60-90 minutes in open countryside enjoying activity, the view, the wildlife and the weather (whatever it’s doing).

    I feel alive … possibly for the first time in my life since I was a playful child.

    Walking is the key, and this article is so important in compounding just how to do that … and do that right. Many thanks.

  104. Can’t afford Vibrams (not at £120 a pair, and they DO NOT come in half-sizes, which is an orthopaedic necessity for me (I was born with a condition known as hemihypertrophy (only learnt it had a name about a month ago!) this means that one whole half of my body (in my case, the right) is bigger/larger/fatter (whatever word you want to use) than my left. My right quad is 3″ larger than the left (yep, THREE WHOLE INCHES, I’ve measured it!) same with my thigh. My arms aren’t so noticeable, but my right bicep is about 1.5″ bigger than the left, and this carries on down the whole of the right side of my body (makes buying bras a nightmare – most women only have to cope with 1 breast being bigger than the other – I have to cope with one side of me (the one opposite the side with the bigger boob, obviously – ya don’t think whoever made me was gonna let me off easy, do ya…?!) so, whereas my left side would be happy as a 28B, my right wants to be a 30C.

    I can’t wear jeans, trousers, pants, slacks, shorts, capris, etc., because I also suffer from lateral hip dysplasia (my right hip is about 2.5″ higher than the left, and slightly further back, meaning that one inside leg is 29″, the other 26.5″!) I must live in either jog pants, or leggings (and even jog pants are difficult; at least with leggings, I can pull the right leg up a couple of inches to make it possible for me to bend my knee!)

    I sometimes feel as though I was assembled from whatever bits they had,left over at the people factory at the end of a VERY hard day!

    I have to have the right kind of footwear, otherwise I’ll suffer greatly for it in my dotage. I already have to wear a hefty knee support on my right knee, to counteract the fact that my LEFT knee points inwards (think of a reversed capital ‘K’) when I sprint, my left leg kicks out at about 45-degrees.

    I’m always up before sunrise, but it’s usually because I have to go bathroom, like really GO, like NOW, and I’d love to do a couple of laps of the camp before anyone else is up, but I have a condition which means that I could be in the bathroom for at least a good couple of hours, if not longer (I have an appt to see a gut doc at some point, the letter’s not arrived yet; my GP told me it could take a couple of months – I damned sodding well hope not, it’s taking over my life! It’s getting to the point where I’ve ended up being locked in supermarkets because I’ve gone in there to use the loo at 6pm (2 hours before closing) and ended up being compelled to remain in there until 9!)

    There’s also the small matter of what I can get into in the mornings; usually I’m a US size 2 (when fully deflated) but, since this as become so acute, I can wake up any size between a 2 and 10! (6-14 to the rest of you Brits!) I can even go out one size, and come home at the end of the day 2 sizes bigger than when I left the house! This is why I have a 50 litre North Face rucksack weighing me down all the time – I need it for all the crud I must carry around with me (I won’t go into details, as it’s not pleasant, but it does include at least 2 changes of clothes; so, if I leave the house a US 2, I need to carry a 4 and a 6 with me – and I’ve not been able to wear a bra for about 2 months now (thank the gods I’m not that big!)

    Suffice it to say, it can take me, on average, at least 2 hours to get dressed of a morning. So, if I wake around, 4-ish (sun up here’s around 4:50), 2 hours at least in the bathroom, 2 hours at least getting dressed, the earliest I’m out the door is 9 (or later if I’m not fasting and I need to eat brekkie!)

    Think I’ll end this now, before I get into TMI territory!

    1. As the previous poster I feel compelled to reply Sarah, especially to a fellow Brit. I have no idea … no comprehension of what you are experiencing in your life.

      I will keep it as simple and as naive as I can – have you tried Invisible Shoes?

      Literally, a sole strapped to your foot with a lace? Okay VFFs are out of your price range and minimalist footwear might well be out of your physical range for everyday, but huaraches cut from flat rubber sole to promote good gait and natural stance feels great … okay, to someone who is anatomically “normal” (I’m not going to beat about the bush).

      You can wear them at home … you can wear them out. Drop into them gradually by wearing them around the house and garden if you’re used to supportive footwear. Natural gait and an almost child-like playfulness over familiar territory can help so much in developing prioperception in the muscles that can be so liberating.

      I’ll take a step back – I’m a self-induced fatty who is starting to appreciate just now much activity and natural acitivity can be so much fun.

      Fun is the key … not exercise.

      No doubt you’ve posted here because you’re seeking to improve your lot. Well, primal/paleo diets work well alongside activity – keep moving. It’s excess carbs that give us problems.

      Good luck. I don’t mean to sound patronising, but I don’t want to skip around either.

      Small acorns … big oaks.

  105. I cycle or walk. Well, actually it’s more of an undisciplined, loose-limbed amble. I choose not to have a car as I love the simplicity of my pace of life without one. After a shift at work as a nurse, having to attend to everyone else, I always wind down with a 1.5 hour walk through the vineyards and along the river. It costs me nothing and adds so much to my physical and mental state. Bottom line, I don’t think we were built to block in a bit of time at a gym or spend a huge amount of money on DVDs or exercise equipment, I think we should just move throughout the day as a natural part of life. Ultimate De-Stresser? Pack a tent, lace-up your boots and go hike away from roads and towns for a week.

  106. Does anyone know how barefoot walking helps/hinders those with an over-pronation problem?

  107. I am lucky, my job involves a lot of walking as I look after buildings.

    I did notice in America that walking is not the norm and when we triend to walk in Las Vegas from our hotel off the strip to the strip we got funny looks – even though it was only a couple of miles. I also notice that the sidewalks dissapear! giving cars ultimate priority.

    Interesting article I received today which just underlines the benefits of walking …..

    In a press release, the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Cyrus Raji, described the results: “We found that walking five miles per week protects the brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer’s and MCI, especially in areas of the brain’s key memory and learning centres.”

  108. I totally love walking! Lost 90 pounds in less than 6 months just from walking and eating healthier. I went from basically not doing much of anything to walking 6 miles a day and some people thought I had had bariatric surgery! lol, NO I love food much to much to do that to my body and I’m a cook at work so that was never an option for me. Walking and eating more natural is what did it for me. I have since gained about 5 pounds but my weight has stabalized for over a year at this weight, on the days I don’t do 6 miles which is about 3 days a week except in winter cuase of the snow (treadmill is super boring but I get at least an hour on that) other days I do about 3 when I go to the gym and then walk to work.

    Walking is so important to health that last week I had major surgery and the one thing the staff kept pushing is walking as much as I can with rest periods cause when you walk you have a much less chance of developing a blood clot or pneumonia. So daily I have done about a mile and hopefully within a month I will be back to my old routine, my doc says it’s my health that is responsible for how good I am doing during recovery. Although I think he’s the best doc in the world I do agree if this had been 2 years ago I would not be doing as well.

  109. I’ve got an 8 month old baby who hates naps, so I’ve been walking a lot more… it truly does help ‘fix’ me on a day when I’ve got more anxiety, etc. It’s quite the workout to strap a 20lb kid to you and do the local hills as well. Having her on my person forces me to be more aware of how I walk as well.

    However, I’ve got such tiny shrimp toes that there is no way I can use Vibrams… I can’t even wear Smartwool ‘toe’ socks, they’ve got like 1″ of extra material at the end LOL…. I have a pair of Nike Frees that I removed the insoles from, those seem to work well. I’m going to get some neoprene booties for walking on the beach I think, too many bees down there this time of year and I don’t want to run the risk of an allergic reaction (instant-grapefruit-sized-foot).

    Great post though. I wish I could get my late 60s parents to walk more. Grr…

  110. I thought my Doctor was nuts when he told me to start walking to get into shape. I know he’s low carb but I’m wondering if he might not also be primal!! He said we are made to walk. I’d rather walk than do an elliptical any day of the week!!

  111. Thoreau has an essay on walking which I recently came across. Walking for him was a way of preserving his sanity and my favourite quote from his essay is this:

    “Moreover, you must walk like a camel which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking. When a traveller asked Wordsworth’s (10) servant to show him her master’s study, she answered ‘Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.’ ”

    So, while we all go walking like Grok, perhaps we can also walk like camels:)

  112. Suggestion to make the definitive guide yet mor definitive: walking under load; back pack, sand bag on shoulder, heavy grocery bags, carrying odd objects, and doing all those things at various speeds.

  113. Hello Mark, It’s me again I would like to say something about walking. My granddaughter goes to Kindergardten and from time to time we choose to walk the distance from the house to her school which covers aside from half the neighborhood,a High school and a big kiddie park to which we have to go through and then walk about 7 to 8 blocks before we actually get to school. all this in a time crunch sort of. So, what do you think? Is it this a good walking practice? Thank you for all your awesome advise and comments you are the MAN. Sincerely, you avid reader Coral.

  114. I’m interested in trying Vibrams, but my feet and toes always get blisters from any sandals (covered not flip flops), boat, casual, and any other non sock shoe that i try. If anyone can provide suggestions, that would be awesome. Thank you!

    1. Not to worry…the blisters come from the friction of your foot rubbing against non-sock shoes. The Vibrams (properly sized, to be sure) fit my feet like gloves and so there’s no rubbing back and forth against the shoe.

  115. Check out my website. I’ve been primal for abyear and have walked two hoursva day for the last 90 days. I have more than 600 miles in that time

  116. God, I love this, this resonates with me on a deep level. It’s moments like this that really make you feel ineffably alive.

    “On the nights when I got to stay out late, I relished
    wandering into the thick of the darkened woods. My heart
    would beat faster. My palms would sweat. I felt like an alert
    animal, excitedly crossing a mysterious threshold. Yet,
    within a few yards I was one with the shadows.”

  117. I regularly walk to everywhere. Mainly 5km to university happens quite a few times a week. This summer I has been using five fingers and I’ve come to knowledge more of my walking style. I’m working on different styles to strengthen my legs and help with shin splints.

  118. What do you do in winter when Vibram’s are out of the question and you can’t avoid a bulky heavy-soled boot? Where I live there is snow 6 months out of the year but I would still like to walk outside as much as possible!

  119. I write a blog on Vancouver and its history. I walk for hours some days, walking around the city taking photos of heritage buildings and whatever else I find interesting.

    1. Hi Karen, whats the primal community like up there in Vancouver. I might be relocated there for work and was curious as to how primal my life might be up there. Easy to find other primal folks and easy to get good quality foods especially grass fed meats? Don’t want to gain any of the weight I lost going primal : )

  120. I don’t know how the primal community is up here. I am just investigating this site here myself. Sorry Frank.

  121. Is that Vancouver, B.C. or Vancouver, WA, U.S.A.? Vancouver, WA across the river from Portland, OR has good access to quality primal foods, but a bit (well, ok, quite a lot) spendy. I haven’t found an affordable grass fed meat supplier yet. We did buy half a bison for slightly under $4/pound. But most grassfed that I’ve found can be anywhere from $7/pound to $16/pound and up. We do the best we can, but like I said, it’s spendy.

  122. Walking is great, but here in Texas when it’s 100 degrees all your food will be ruined on that long walk back. 😛

  123. What do you think about walking barefoot on a treadmill? In MN when it’s -30 it’s kinda hard to imagine barefooting…

  124. Sometime in HS, not sure why, I started walking different. I kinda step down, lightly roll along the outside part of my foot, and to the balls of my feet. But then I got too busy….. and started clomping on my heels. So now I alternate between them, depending on what I’m doing/how big of a hurry I’m in. And I love the “How we’re wrecking our feet” article somebody linked to.

  125. Interestingly enough, I also sometimes do that “fox walking” or whatever the link called it.

    I actually spent most of my life walking or riding a bike. Mom didn’t drive, so we’d walk 4 miles or more to go shopping, then carry everything back (sometimes 8+ miles). I didn’t start driving until I was 21. Sadly though, I’ve done little else since, but I’m making changes.

    Have to say I love this site!

  126. In my job (and because I do not own a car) I walk 15 – 20 km every day and do lots of heavy, functional living. Leading this lifestylefor the last 2 years, I don’t work out at a gym anymore, and I have never felt better or been stronger. My whole body is toned and I rarely get sick. Walking is where it’s at for overall health and well-being. It’s not the only thing you need to do to stay healthy, but it is a prerequisite.

  127. I walk my dogs every morning for 30 mins or more — about an hour on the weekends at the park. I also walk 30 mins at my lunchtime during the work week. I work in downtown St. Louis, and my walking buddies and I walk to the Arch grounds.

  128. Do you NEED to walk outside? I realize “fresh air” is good for you, but in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year it’s raining (I might melt) and getting colder (I might freeze) by the day. It’s also DARK by the time I get home. Would using that under utilized treadmill that’s been in the back room for years be okay? I mean, it would be better than just coming home and sitting on the couch right? It’s funny, because I grew up in a no car house and we walked everywhere, but as soon as I moved out and got a car, I haven’t looked back, driving even just two or three blocks. Now, almost 40 years later, I regret that decision. If I get used to walking (even in-doors) during these winter months, then maybe it will be easier to transfer it to outdoors when it gets warmer.

    1. Though walking on a treadmill is better than parking yourself on the couch, I really do think exposing yourself to various types of inclement weather (dressed appropriately) helps build up your immune system and keeps you healthier, given reasonably strong general health to begin with.

      I understand bad weather. I’m in the desert, and it can be in the 110F for a couple of months straight, and my job has me walking around outside all day long. I honestly feel like it has made me healthier and the changes in weather affect me much less.

  129. Mark,

    I’ve stiff big toes, sore arches ,knees, hips (above hips & at hip flexors) & back. I also overpronate, which I think has a lot to do with my ankles being lax but stiff in dorsiflexion.

    I have been in Merrell trail gloves for about 5 months & going to a chiropractor, which did help a lot. But I stupidly wore orthotics for a couple of days to rest my arches & now I’m worse. My chiropractor moved & was replaced by another who isn’t as effective for me too – I did one of his exercies wrong which started the downward spiral in the first place.

    Please advise!
    Tom

  130. I do best with the cheap flip flops from Wal Mart. Less than $5 and they are what I do best in. Anything more is cumbersome. I find boots in the winter are ‘OK’, but it’s the in between I don’t like.

    I’ve gone spelunking in flip flops and did not slip while the three others wearing some sort of hiking shoe or regular running shoe all lost balance.

    I don’t know if its as close to barefoot (while still protecting foot from a hot or cold or sharp) ground that does the trick, but I can move easily and freely with simple flip flops. Yay.

  131. Loved the article on walking. I usually take a brisk walk a few times a week during my lunch hour to help clear my head and gain some steps. I use a pedometer each day and try to get over 10,000 steps, and my half hour walk usually helps get at least half of that.

  132. unless you have a huge backyard, that allowes you to just let them out there to play. Your dogs would need to walk too… Walking is a great way to bond with your dog, and also to bond with the ones your walking with.

  133. Walking barefoot is a great way to improve your walking technique. I walk barefoot around the house and outside. This means walking on dried grass, small rocks, twigs, leaves, etc. If you’re not walking efficiently YOU WILL KNOW!

  134. “so unless you buy into the ancient aliens theory, you accept that our paleolithic ancestors relied on self-ambulation to get around.”

    The ancient alien hypothesis does not contradict the self-ambulation hypothesis. Both can be correct 🙂

  135. Hi Mark, thanks for your post, stumbled on this as I was doing research on a knee injury after running in VFF. But anyway, I wanted to ask you if VFF are suitable for normal everyday walking? If so, I should be walking in with the ‘heel-touching’ technique right? Hope my question isn’t too stupid.. :/

  136. Walking is one of the best exercise. After moving to H Town in the downtown area I got a chance to walk in the neighborhood every evening which improved my health reduced B sugar and lower cholesterol. Yes walking is the best thing to improve your health.

  137. Question: what about using hiking poles or walking sticks? Seems like common sense would dictate proper use of aids depends on environment + physical condition. So hiking a steep mountain, yeah for everybody; on a hill with no physical impairment? Not so necessary, my opinion. My husband, with a chronic bad ankle due to airplane crash 25 yrs ago, takes a walking stick every time, regardless of terrain. The gals in my S AZ hiking group all use hiking sticks; we usually hike up / down canyon trails. Everyone tells me I should too…. but I am just not feeling the need! I’m reminded of an out-of-shape big box shopper. lean-pushing a shopping cart and complaining of back ache / knee pain / etc. … that inappropriate use of hiking aids is essentially a crutch and should be avoided. Your thoughts?

  138. You are an elitist self-serving jack hat aren’t you. I’ve been trying to get into more of this kind of thing since my fight with cancer, but I can’t get through a paragraph of your writing without being reminded of how much we all suck, and you “Vibram clad elite” are the best things since kale sandwiches. Another typical example of a blogger pandering to your crowd. Anybody who has lived outside the paleo bubble is to be utterly dismissed. Sorry for the rant. I’ll move along now.