Minimalist Health: A Walk in the Park

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As a society, we are commodifying health. It’s all about the size of your biceps, and how many animals you eat to grow them. Not, as it should be, about how great you feel. With the industry becoming ever more saturated, it’s getting harder to filter out the wheat from the chaff. So, my question is, in this growing world of carbless diets, do you struggle to separate the signal from the noise? Do you wish for something simple, that you can trust? Well, I’ve got a treat for you. Once we’re done here, you’ll be ready to take your first steps to better health, the minimalist way.

So, Why Walk?

That’s right. The big secret is out and it’s walking. Simple, right? Of course it is, it always is. It’s generally better to do more with less. Think about it, what is the main purpose of your muscular system? Movement. And what is a human’s primary form of (self-powered) movement? Walking. I could stop right there and you could get out walking and loving life. But the less trusting among you might want a bit more information, and I don’t blame you. Here’s why your first (or next) step into better health should be an actual, very ordinary, step.

It’s Easy!

What if I told you I hire a personal walking trainer at £50/hour to help me walk optimally? You would either click off immediately or skim through so you could ridicule me in more detail later. That’s because walking is kind of easy. You don’t have to learn how to hip hinge or load your hamstrings. You’re not going to need much, if any, specialist equipment. And you definitely shouldn’t be paying for a walking trainer, if they even exist. As a result, there’s minimal barrier to entry here, even the biggest consumer walks from chair to car. All you have to do now is repeat.

It’s Natural!

I’m no scientist but I read an article in Smithsonian magazine that pegs upright walking as far back as 7 million years. The point here being – we’ve been walking for a long time. That’s long enough for natural selection to weed out bad ideas. Walking, though, is still here. Just think of a baby, they don’t need classes to learn to walk. A little space and encouragement maybe, but they seem naturally determined to stand on two feet. Even your anatomy shows it. Your legs are way longer than your arms and thoracic over-extension is simply impossible. It goes on but I don’t really need to convince you that walking is natural.

It’s Practical!

Whether you’re doing a Paddy Leigh Fermor style expedition or just going a mile to the store, it often makes sense to walk. It’s great for you, it’s easy and it’s natural. But beyond all that, it gets you from A to B – an overlooked use. Walking is a practical form of transportation. It’s cleaner than driving and more energy-efficient than running. Both your body and the Earth will thank you. If you can stop stressing and silence your impatience, it’s a great way to get around.

It’s Peaceful!

Since you’re likely a vegan or a minimalist, I’m guessing you fancy yourself to be pretty mindful. If you’re both, you’re probably a veritable mac daddy of awareness. So, what better way to be aware than to do almost nothing but be? If you opt for the bare-bones approach to walking. No music, no audiobook, nothing. You’re going to be hard pressed not to find beauty in your surroundings. You don’t have to sell your house and live on a sailboat to appreciate the beauty of the moment, you know. While that might help, sometimes it’s just as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

Don’t Walk Away (Why You Should Walk Despite Your Objections)

“I’m already fit and strong! Why waste time walking?”

Alright, I hear you. The central tenet of fitness is progressive overload. Question is, how can you make walking incrementally more difficult? As a matter of fact, the difficulty of walking can scale, like most things. Just add some spice. For example, you can walk barefoot and choose rougher terrain as you develop. You can go rucking – walking with a heavy rucksack – in the wilderness. Or, one of my personal favourites, fill a barrel with weights (or anything heavy) and bear hug it as you stroll.

Conclusion

Voila, just as I promised, you’re more than armed to get started. On top of that, I didn’t even try to sell you one course that exposes the secrets of extreme health. (It’s a special supplement priced at $24.99/bottle).

To conclude:

Step 1: put one foot forward,

Step 2: move the other foot forward,

Step 3: repeat steps 1&2.

Remember, the most important thing is for you to actually try it. I challenge you to go on a deliberate walk within the next seven days.

Are you a converted walker? Think you’ll stick to Segways?

Whether you think walking rocks or sucks, post it below in the comment section.

4 comments… add one
  • Ruth 05/01/2017 Reply

    What a wonderful piece.

    I very much agree that walking is a fantastic form of exercise, transportation and relaxation. Instead of catching a bus or driving, I have been walking to and from work for the past two years. It may take me a fair bit longer than going the motorised way, but this gives me the chance to have some Me-time ahead of a busy day or to clear my head after. And when I leave my house at 5:45am, the beautiful sunsets and fresh air win over the grey bus seats any time.

    On my days off, I also do a lot of walking to get back to myself. Sometimes it’s just me, nature, and my thoughts; sometimes I wander with a good podcast in my ears. There is no right or wrong way of enjoying a walk as solely the movements themselves and the fresh air have a magical effect as they are.

    Thank you sharing your ideas and motivation behind walking and I hope others will also find the joy in this wonderful activity. 🙂

    • Nathanael Boardman 08/01/2017 Reply

      Thank you very much.

      Your account is very true. I find a lot of life occurs when you slow down.

      When I was 16 I would walk around the park and meditate by the pond. A memory I’ll always keep.

  • Daikuro Estrada 12/01/2017 Reply

    What I love about walks is that it centers you and it allows you to focus on the present. You get to see how you are moving and breathing and you start to focus on things that really matters to you.

    • Nathanael Boardman 12/01/2017 Reply

      Exactly. We’re often going too fast.

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