At Tribal Fitness, one of our philosophies of Natural Movement is Daily Walkabout. You will have heard many of our coaches spout about our ancestors covering distances of around 16 km daily whereas the average man or woman today covers a measly 4 km.
Yes, our ancestors had to walk long distances to move homes, hunt for food or find water. Nowadays for us it seems to be at most a walk around the super market or shopping mall and to add insult to injury usually done in poor footwear.
So what is really so great about walking?
Firstly - unless you are seriously injured, you can walk.
Secondly - you don't need any equipment, the ground is beneath you and you have two limbs to propel you forward and it’s free! (except maybe a flexible pair of shoes).
Thirdly - Just look at the benefits below.
Get me some Vitamin D!
In the Middle East we have some of the highest deficiencies in vitamin D globally despite having great weather almost year round. Yes you can get it from food and supplements, but it is even easier to get all your vitamin D requirements by spending 20 minutes walking around your local area.
Explore your local area and engage in the scenery (pretty or not)
In addition to the Vitamin D benefits, walking allows you to take in your surroundings and experience them in a way you cannot when travelling by car. The smells, sounds and ability to stop and engage.
Walking in a more natural location helps lower cortisol (your necessary but usually over produced stress hormone).
Lower blood pressure, triglycerides and improves glycemic control.
A short walk after dinner, or any meal time, improves glycemic control (blood sugar) which means a reduced chance of type-2 diabetes. Lower blood pressure and levels of triglycerides (cholesterol) lead to a longer, healthier life.
The slow fat burner
Walking won’t be the single answer to help you lose weight, but it certainly goes a long way in helping you towards that goal. It will get you moving more and therefore burning some fuel.
Improve those around you.
Encourage others around you to join you on your walk, not only will it benefit their health, it will also improve your relationship by spending quality time together. You may actually even talk!
You mentioned something about my shoes, what shoes should I wear?
In an ideal word we would all be barefoot for optimal movement and health. However with man-made surfaces, our soft, shoe-wearing feet need some protection. Due to wearing shoes many people’s feet are more like planks of wood rather than the dexterous appendages they should be.
So the first step (pun intended) is to be more barefoot around your home for short periods of time. Think about how you should be walking, heel-to-toe, and I mean all the way to the big toe. The big toe should push you forward, not up.
The second step is to transition to a more flexible shoe, going from a very rigid sole to a Vibram 5-finger style shoe is not sensible and can lead to injury, instead find a shoe that is slightly more flexible than the last and build up your tolerance.
Third step - avoid flip flops or any shoes where you have to grip your toes to hold the shoe in place whilst you walk. Bad news for ankle mobility and stability.
How do I start?
Quit the excuses, put your shoes on (or not) and go for a walk. The benefits are numerous, it costs nothing and almost everyone can do it.