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Why I Walk: Or how thinking about evolution made me worry about my health and love to walk
Illustration depicting the scale of human evolution
Time scale of the entire cultural history of humans. The red bars mark the beginning and end of the Old Stone Age – Copyright New Scientist
During the Stone Age, humans were likely to run up to 10 miles per day http://articles.latimes.com/1997-01-23/local/me-21305_1_stone-age
The Levy Pattern - From “The Anthropology Of Walking,” NPR, January 09, 2014 and other sources
“The Evolution of Marathon Running Capabilities in Humans,” Sports Med 2007 Still from the film adaptation of “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.”
The Agricultural Revolution – We started to become less nomadic. Initially began about 10,000 years ago.
The Agricultural Revolution – From NPR: Prehistoric "pantries": This illustration is based on archaeological findings in Jordan of structures built to store extra grain some 11,000-12,000 years ago. - Illustration by E. Carlson/Dr. Ian Kuijt/University of Notre Dame
The Industrial Revolution - Sächsische Maschinenfabrik inChemnitz, Germany, 1868 – The late 1880s? A blip of time in the history of human evolution.
What an automotive assembly line used to look like – Ford in 1913 http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-of-the-ford-assembly-line-in-1913-2013-10
Now, here’s a modern Hyundai plant.
So where’s that leave us?
Photo by Andreas Gursky, “Nha Trang,” 2004
Cube farm – Photo by unknown
Taken from the NPR story “What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?” - August 04, 2014
Taken from the NPR story “What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?” - August 04, 2014 as well as Church’s study
Figures from a study by professor of exercise and sports science Loren Cordain, Colorado State University
10,000 steps a day – This idea is rooted in a Japanese health program from the 60s
From “Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults” – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, October 2010 Background: Colombian advertisement - Asociación Colombia de Hipertensión Arterial y Factores de Riesgo cardiovascular
Obesity rates are much lower among the Amish, who also walk much more than the average American.
We’re sitting a lot and it’s really bad for us.
Did you notice the “sit” in obesity?
See the “Sitting is Killing You” infographic here: http://visual.ly/sitting-killing-you
Washington Post Infographic: “The Health Hazards of Sitting” – Washington Post - http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/
Are you sitting down for this?
See the “Sitting is Killing You” infographic here: http://visual.ly/sitting-killing-you And this is just a partial presentation of the unfortunate facts of sitting
See the “Sitting is Killing You” infographic here: http://visual.ly/sitting-killing-you
Statistics from study by University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, July 2014
The benefit of walking. Photo by Robert Stribley
But how? Some practical ways to get more walking done
Wearable devices and step counting
What I noticed once I started counting my steps
In conclusion: Our modern day work and lifestyles are almost unavoidably toxic to our health
The solution – or part of it anyway: Walk on! – Image of walkers on the Highline by Robert Stribley
Thank you - @stribs Photo by Robert Stribley
Listing of Resource Materials for Further Reading
Why I Walk
Why I Walk Or how
thinking about evolution made me worry about my health and love to walk
the Lévy Pattern Humans still
follow the Lévy pattern when we walk about college campuses, urban environments like New York City, places like Disney World So do insects like honeybees, sharks and monkeys and other mammals
“In 1960, 1 out of
2 Americans had a job where they had lots of physical activity and actually exercised at work; by 2008, very few Americans were doing work that doesn't involve sitting around all day.” - Dr. Tim Church, professor of preventative medicine, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU
Church’s research found: • We
don’t eat that much more today than 20 years ago – but we move much less • In the ‘80s, 80 to 90% said they were physical active in their leisure time. • Now, up to 50% of Americans admit they’re not active at all • From 1960 to 2008, men now burn 140 fewer calories on the job per day • Women burn 120 fewer per day • 1 in 5 Americans say they move on the job, but that's probably a "gross underestimate” • Probably more like 1 in 10
Similarly, in the late 90s,
Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet found: • Endurance athletes may expend 5,000 calories a day • Construction workers and rural agricultural workers may expend 3,500 calories a day • Estimated that hunter-gatherers used about 3,000 calories a day • A sedentary American expends about 1,800 calories a day - Study by professor of exercise and sports science Loren Cordain, Colorado State University
In 2003 study, average American
took 5,117 steps a day West Australian 9,695 Switzerland 9,650 Japan 7,168 A person taking less than 5,000 steps per day is considered sedentary. - Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, October 2010
Amish men took, on average,
more than 18,000 steps a day, and Amish women averaged more than 14,000 steps a day. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, January 2004
sitting facts • We’re spending
more time sitting than any other time in human history: • 9.3 hours a day (plus 7.7 sleeping) • Obese people sit 2.5 hours more per day than thinner people • As you sit, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute • Enzymes which break down fat drop 90% • People with sitting jobs are at 2x the risk for cardiovascular disease • Sitting is bad for your back, neck, abdomen • Sitting 6+ hours per day increases risk of death up to 40% over those sitting less than 3 – even with exercise • If you sit and watch TV for 3 hours a day you’re 64% more likely to die of heart disease – even if you exercise
simple math • Each time
unit of sitting cancels out 8% of your gain from the same amount of running • If you run for 1 hour, then sit for 10, you lose about 80% of the health benefit from your workout • 1 hour of moderate-intensity exercise? Lose 16% of your workout gain from each hour of sitting University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, July 2014
so if you work out
for 1 hour a day then sit for 6.25 hours you’ve pretty much lost all the benefit of working out
but it’s about health, not
weight Walking alone isn’t a quick ticket to weight loss. Just walking 10,000 steps, you won’t lose a lot of weight. It’s about overall health.
benefits of walking • Walking
burns 3-5 times the calories of sitting • Decreased depression – increases neuro-transmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine • Improved attention span – people who stop exercising can develop ADHD symptoms • Increased creativity – from a 10-minute walk • Lower blood pressure • Increased self esteem • Improved metabolism • Improved neurogenesis • Reduced risk of Alzheimer's • Reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and more
but how? • skip an
hour of TV and go for a walk • get off the subway a stop or two early • take the stairs • walk to the further printer • go for a walk on your lunch break • park your car further away from your destination • walk while you make all your personal phone calls • don’t stand still on the escalator • take the long way home • get a standing desk* • ride a Citibike** • practice “aimless walking” • count your steps *some restrictions may apply **not officially walking, but still fun
wearing the Jawbone UP+ I
noticed some patterns: • It takes a lifestyle change to get 10,000 steps in daily • The number of steps plummets when I travel or go on holiday • Weekends should be easier but sometimes aren’t • My schedule often hard to make up lost steps • I started doing late night walks when I traveled or planning walks first thing in the morning
further reading “The Anthropology Of
Walking,” – NPR, January 09, 2014 “The Crisis in American Walking,” – Slate, April 2012 “The Evolution of Marathon Running Capabilities in Humans,” Sports Med, 2007 “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health,” Sports Med 2004 “How Much Does Sitting Negate Your Workout Benefits?” Runner’s World, July 14, 2014 “How Exercise May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay” – New York Times, January 18, 2012 “Hungry animals, people use ‘Levy walk’” – The Washington Post, December 2013 “Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults” – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, October 2010 “Physical Activity in an Old Order Amish Community” – Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, January 2004 “Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise” – New York Times, July 7, 2010 “Stone Age Aerobics” – Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1997 “Trends over 5 Decades in U.S. Occupation-Related Physical Activity and Their Associations with Obesity” – May 25, 2011 “What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?” – NPR, August 04, 2014 “Why not even exercise will undo the harm of sitting all day—and what you can do about it” – Quartz, June 26, 2014 “Why 10,000 Steps a Day Won't Make You Thin” - U.S. News & World Report, May 2014 “Why Walking Matters” – WBUR, May 19, 2014