March 27, 2007


These feet were made for walking: Forget jogging , gyms and fancy sports gear - the best way to lose weight, avoid illness and improve your brainpower is to take a daily walk (Peta Bee, March 27, 2007, The Guardian)

It requires no gym subscription, no spandex, Lycra or legwarmers and is an activity to which even the most fitness-phobic individual might not be averse. So what is the latest exercise trend that we are being encouraged to embrace for the good of our health and the sliminess of our thighs? A daily stroll. Earlier this month, the LA Times predicted that walking would be this year's biggest fitness trend and that we will be taking to pavements in hordes akin to the jogging boom of the 1970s. Indeed, high-profile personal trainers on both sides of the Atlantic can now be spotted marching their clients around parks and pavements.

Lucy Knight, author of Walking for Weight Loss (Kyle Cathie, £12.99), says that the benefits of walking are countless. You use pretty much the same muscles as running - strengthening the hamstring, quadriceps, iliopsoas muscles at the front of the hips, calf and the gluteus maximus muscles with each stride - but the activity is far kinder to the joints. "It is not a high-impact activity," she says. "So, while it strengthens and stabilises the muscles around your major joints, it reduces the wear and tear on the cartilage and minimises the risk of joint injury." Researchers, too, are in no doubt that the resurgence of a daily stroll to boost health is much needed. "Humans were designed to walk," says James Levine, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic college of medicine in Minnesota, who has studied the benefits. "We spent 7m years of our history walking and now, all of a sudden we are sitting down. That is having a profound effect on our health."

A daily walk has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. And studies have shown that a broader set of disorders - from sexual dysfunction to cognitive decline - can also be aided by a brisk walk around the block. Indeed, JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard University, goes as far as describing a daily stroll as being "as close to a magic bullet as you'll find in modern medicine. If there was a pill that could lower the risk of chronic disease like walking does, then people would be clamouring for it".

With an iPod and an Audiobook from your local library, you'll barely notice you're walking. I've been listening to the Aubrey/Maturin series, read by the incomparable Simon Vance, and have several times found myself going for longer than intended just to finish a scene.

You can also get free Audiobooks at LibriVox and good podcasts at ESPN, NPR, Radio Lovers (try The Avenger; Nero Wolfe; & Hornblower), and

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2007 8:30 AM

Ah; a daily constitutional.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2007 9:01 AM

Leaving the couch in the inner sanctum (basement)of stately Judd manor in order to get some exercise? What's next? A shave?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 27, 2007 9:05 AM

Paying the cost of The Wife's mid-life crisis....

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2007 9:15 AM

Heard the famous Dr. Michael Roizen speak at Dartmouth Hitchcock, and he emphasized that THE best thing you can do for your health is walk every single day, and it need be only for thirty minutes!

Posted by: D Judd at March 27, 2007 9:19 AM

"We spent 7m years of our history walking and now, all of a sudden we are sitting down. That is having a profound effect on our health."

So if we don't start walking again it's going to be the survival of the (un)fittest?

Posted by: Rick T. at March 27, 2007 10:10 AM

Ever since I got the iPod, I'm suddenly enjoying walking the dog. (It's James Lileks podcasts for me.)

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 27, 2007 12:51 PM