April 22, 2022

Doing This One Thing Can Make You Live Much Longer: But Are You Curious About the Side Effects?

For a bit more than a year, I’ve made a daily practice of walking fast for exercise outdoors.

My Apple Watch tells me that my average pace ranges from 12:40-13:00 minutes per mile. Any faster and I’d be jogging.

About 10 days ago, I rolled my ankle in a pothole during my usual 4-6 mile morning walk.

Now, as I hobble along in a plastic boot awaiting MRI results, I stumble upon a study that says brisk walking increases lifespan.

The Mayo Clinic and others have also done studies showing that fast walkers live longer, even when their BMI (Body Mass Index) is less than svelte.

I don’t doubt it’s true, and I haven’t been svelte since age 17.

Some of the longevity effect likely comes from the cardio work out. Some from deeper breathing. Some from muscle tone. Some from longer telomeres…whatever they are.

I do believe my fast-walk regimen may help me see an extra sunrise or two…or 5,840.

But I KNOW it provides other benefits.

  1. Beauty: I often walk on a lakeside trail and revel in what Jean Calvin called “the theatre of God’s glory”, which is nature. That makes me happy.
  2. Mental Stimulus: I listen to audiobooks and podcasts on the trail. If I walk six hours each week, that’s 300 extra hours of reading and learning per year. Learning brings me joy.
  3. Connection: Walking in a two-four mile radius of my home gets me acquainted with neighborhoods, businesses and local points of interest. I really didn’t know my community until I connected through walking.
  4. Feeling the Weather: This may seem bizarre, but I love walking in the sun and the rain alike. Even the bitter cold is not so bitter to me. Early walks in darkness, and magnificent sunrise vistas provide equal blessings. It all makes me feel vibrant. Our sheltered HVAC lives have cheated us out of these invigorating multi-sensory experiences.

So, if my rapid pace should stretch my days, I’m ok with that.

But I don’t prize longevity for its own sake.

More days FROM walking, means more days FOR walking.

And that’s a beautiful thing.