11 July 2024

Forget the gym, the easiest way to stay fit is going out for a regular stroll

One way to maintain physical fitness is to walk. It’s easy, cheap and enjoyable. There’s no pressure either. For maximum benefit, just walk naturally. There’s no need to time ourselves, count steps or check our heart rate while walking. Simply walk.

“Our ancient ancestors were hunters,” says Dr. Chumrurn Sorapipatana, co-founder of the newly opened MedPark Hospital. “Hunters walked all day to find food. They walked at a natural pace and on different surfaces. They didn’t time themselves while walking. They didn’t walk non-stop. But they walked while looking for food. That’s the way the human body is built.”

Research shows that walking is one of the best ways to maintain health and fitness. And, by walking, Dr. Chumrurn means natural walking, not taking to the treadmill in the gym, which is not natural walking.

A hunter-gatherer’s routine is to walk in the wild to hunt for animal and other foods. Such walking involves a mix of moderate to high intensity exercise with intervening periods of rest.

Our ancestors walked on different surfaces – grass, rocks, dirt and uneven ground. Today, exercising tends to involve high intensity workouts. Walking or running on a solid flat surface, they reason, creates better impact loading for the joints.

Besides, walking is a natural brain exercise. When walking, our brain will communicate with different muscles, tendons and joints, to keep them all functioning well. The more you walk, the more exercise your brain gets.

Humans are the only mammal that cools down body temperature by sweating. This mechanism allows human beings to hunt continuously, which creates a lot of body heat, he notes.

Our ability to secrete water onto the skin to cool down body temperature allows us to go hunting during the day, under the strong sun and in high temperatures. During the daytime, many animals protected by a thick pelt have to hide from the heat. Therefore, humans can go hunting when other animals are sleeping.

Continuous walking and basic movement are vital to staying healthy. By keeping lean and maintaining an appropriate body weight, we can reduce harm to our joints.

Research also shows that walking can promote good health while bringing such benefits as weight loss and improved mood while lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Walk at your natural pace. Keep moving like a hunter-gatherer. Live an active lifestyle. These are the simple ways to stay healthy,” Dr. Chumrurn says.