August 20, 2013 by scratchtype1
Now before the day of a hike through wet grass that led me down the rabbit hole of where I am now, almost always either barefoot or in a pair of minimalist sandals, there was another important first steps towards all the barefoot steps I’m now taking. I’d been itching to get back into better shape, something more towards where I was when there was a peak of sorts late 2009 and early 2010. Strength and cardio, I wasn’t world-class, or regional-class, maybe even local-class, but I was reasonably strong and able to get around decently walking and running.
I can’t remember exactly what drew my attention to the idea of 10,000 steps per day. It’s maybe not even any great sort of goal. Assuming an average length of 2.5 feet per each step, a 10,000 step is not even quite 5 miles of distance being covered. If I remember correctly, the average American male gets around 7500 steps and females slightly less than that. On the other hand, when a population of Amish up in Canada were given pedometers to track their daily steps, the men averaged over 18,000 and the women over 14,000. Big difference. It goes to show how much more sedentary our lives have become. We sit a lot. We use cars a lot. We don’t nearly move as much as our evolutionary ancestors did.
But because of that, I bought myself a little pedometer and have used it to help me to try to achieve 10,000 steps a day. I didn’t always get that done over the winter, but now since February 16th, I’ve only had one day, June 6th, where I bagged things because of rain and didn’t reach 10,000. The number title of this post is the sum of the steps from February 16th to yesterday, August 19th. That’s 185 days and an average of 17509 steps per day. It’s just an easy number to keep track of in the log I keep of blood sugars.
Still, I’m not quite Amish-class and the big reason for that is the job I have, largely in front of a computer. And of course I drive to and from work, about 15 miles each direction. But I’ve learned ways to help add to the steps. At work, park far away. The park far away goes for any parking lot situation. Don’t be afraid to get up and walk around at work every now and then. In some ways, getting up from sitting may be one of the biggest factors towards a healthy metabolism and it also points to how even doing the recommended 30 minutes daily of exercise isn’t really enough. That 30 minutes daily is better than nothing, of course, but it doesn’t address the issue of how our metabolisms down-regulate when we’re not moving. You need to move, often, frequently. There’s a reason that the biggest muscles of the body are in the legs and butts — because we’re a mobile species. Our bodies want to move. The paradox is that our minds and spirits can be lazy, which may be an artifact of the evolutionary period when calories were more scare and less reliable, during that ancient past it was actually helpful if the switch in our brains said, “Don’t move if you aren’t actively pursuing your next meal.” It helped to preserve those calories. But most times in the past there was a lot of hunting and gathering.
Nowadays, we can get all our caloric needs in short visits to a grocery store.
And also it’s fair enough to point out it didn’t really matter so much if our ancient ancestors only lived 40 to 50 years or so. If you made it to 40 or 50 back then, you probably had already reproduced at least a few times. But now we live in an age where we can live long past our prime periods of reproductive fitness, so there needs to be a conscious decision to adopt strategies which will keep us from sitting on our butts all day.
I don’t suppose there is any easy answer to the problem of a calorie-dense enviroment and one where we have devised energy-saving devices to cut down on how much we have to move. Although I suspect one cool idea would be if workplaces went to standing desks, desks where people would perform their tasks standing.
That, and sometimes I think that maybe if the cultural mindset changed to one where being barefoot was predominant, it might help all of us remember just how much our feet connect us with the world. It’s maybe easy to forget that when we go around in shoes almost all the time.