The “Miracle Cure”: Walking

The “Miracle Cure”: Walking by Charles Hugh Smith for Of Two Minds

The activity/exercise must be enjoyable enough that it doesn’t take a massive application of willpower to make it happen.

While selling health-related “miracle cures” of one kind or another is big business, the real “miracle cure” is activity/exercise. The essential role of exercise/fitness is backed up by a large and growing body of evidence. It’s now apparent that humans are “born to walk” and need to stay active to be healthy: eating well isn’t enough.

If we apply the foundational processes of evolution to our own health, we end up focusing on the critical role of activity/exercise in our well-being–and in particular, the impressive benefits of walking.

This includes the impact of exercise on mental acuity/health, as explained in this article:

Brains evolved to need exercise

“Mounting scientific evidence shows that exercise is good not only for our bodies, but for our brains. Yet, exactly why physical activity benefits the brain is not well understood.

Having this underlying understanding of the exercise-brain connection could help researchers come up with ways to enhance the benefits of exercise even further, and to develop effective interventions for age-related cognitive decline or even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

The link between brain health and exercise is visible in studies of dementia and Alzheimer’s, which have found that a daily walk reduces the risk of developing these disorders.

The other article worth reading is Humans Evolved to Exercise: (Scientific American) Unlike our ape cousins, humans require high levels of physical activity to be healthy– “Exercise is not optional; it is essential.”

This article is behind a paywall but you may be able to find it at your local library. Here are some excerpts:

“Among our primate cousins, we humans are clearly the odd ape out. Somehow humans evolved to require much higher levels of physical activity for our bodies to function normally.

In ecology and evolution, diet is destiny. The foods animals eat do not just shape their teeth and guts but their entire physiology and way of living. Species evolved to eat foods that are abundant and stationary need not roam too far or be too clever to fill up; grass does not hide or run away.

Moreover, hunting and gathering required hominins to work harder for their food. Simply moving up the food chain means food is harder to find; there are a lot more plant calories on the landscape than animal calories. Hunter-gatherers are remarkably active, typically covering nine to 14 kilometers a day on foot—about 12,000 to 18,000 steps.

Although we have long known that exercise is good for us humans, we are only beginning to appreciate the myriad ways our physiology has adapted to the physically active way of life that hunting and gathering demands. Nearly every organ system is implicated, down to the cellular level. Some of the most exciting work in this area has focused on the brain.

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