“…the two-footed upright gait is a banner accomplishment for our species.”
“…walking is one of the things that distinguishes man from all other animals.”
“Walking is an automatic, intrinsic human function, and it serves many practical roles.”
“Walking doesn’t get the respect it deserves, either for its health benefits, its value for transportation, or its role in recreation.”
Quotes aside, what about facts? The Harvard article references a University College London meta-analysis of research published between 1970 and 2007 in peer-reviewed English-language journals. Based on 18 studies covering 459,833 participants who were free of cardiovascular disease when the investigations began, the meta-analysis found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%, and it cut the risk of dying during the study period by 32%. These benefits applied to men and women, and protection occurred even at distances of 5½ miles per week, walking at about 2 miles per hour. The people who walked longer distances, walked at a faster pace, or both enjoyed the greatest protection.
The article busts a lot of myths, and includes thought-provoking insights into themes such as walking vs running (walkers have one foot on the ground at all times, reducing impacts and hence injuries) and the relationship between walking and calorie burn. Summing up, the article notes,
“Walking has it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill….. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive…Charles Dickens got it right: “Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy.”