Here we are, having stripped life down to some of the essentials: animal protein, vegetables, good fat; sensible sleep/stress-management; generally trying to not live life at a 150-mph pace. When it comes to exercise, a lot of us have ditched "chronic cardio" in favor of something that lends itself a bit better to efficiency of fat loss and particularly not to grinding ourselves to a pulp -- typically some heavy lifting and sprinting a few days a week. (Other people are training for the CrossFit Games. Have at it, you hardcore CFers, but this post isn't really for you because you have chosen another path labeled "CrossFit as a sport" rather than "CrossFit as a path to health and longevity"). We are in a good place with all of that.
But somewhere in there, the most basic human activity, walking -- outside, not on a treadmill, not in a mall -- got lost in the shuffle for a bunch of us.
Its powers are pretty transformative.
I have never particularly had anything *against* walking for the sake of the walk, but, as an exercise/fitness thing, I have to admit that it took some rearranging of my attitude to get there. It always seemed kind-of lame, like the ugly third cousin of all the cool, fun stuff I do. And even when the walk was more of a hike, I would rarely be doing it for the sheer ambulatory joy of it all, but, rather, to reach a goal, a summit -- sometimes metaphorical, but usually f'reals.
What changed all that for me was our two younger dogs. These two goofballs,
despite their apparent sloth, are actually really active. Milo (couch) is nine months old, and Ruby (floor) is a little more than two. And they both *need* at least one long walk a day, if not two, so as to put them in the exhausted condition that you see here, rather than the bouncing-off-the-wall "I'm a puppy, and I looooooooove everything!" state that drives dog owners batty. Or, as my wife says, "A tired dog is a good dog."
Even before Milo's arrival on the scene back in April or so, Ruby had demonstrated her need for a daily walk a while ago, but, since he has been around, it is an even more of an imperative. The boy has energy to spare. So off we go.... On a once-or-twice-a-day 2.5-miler.
I swear that it does as much for me as it does for them. Walking is the perfect easy activity for a rest day; it is also a great, and mostly unheralded, mobility tool for gym days. Little keeps me from getting super sore after heavy squats or deads like that 35-min or so zip around what we call "the big block."
Then there are the mental effects. I won't pretend that walking is a sub for meditation. It's not. But it sure as hell is a big slice o'chill-out. And there is a lot of value just in that. Do it every day, and you might just find yourself sleeping better, burning fat more efficiently, and generally finding the silver linings a little more often.
And really, there just is no downside. It's not enough of a grind, like a long run, or a long metcon, to cause cortisol buildup. Walking isn't chronic cardio of that sort because it is so easy on your muscular and skeletal system. It also, more than almost anything else you do exercise-wise, is exactly what we were built to do. You know all that evolutionary stuff that the paleo folks go on about (quite rightfully)? There is not much more "evolutionarily-based" of an exercise than taking a walk.
So keep eating clean, lifting heavy and running sprints. But open your mind, and your life, to the daily walk. This one small addition to your paleo regimen might just make everything even better.
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