7

votes

How much walking is optimal?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 12, 2011 at 11:15 PM

This was posted a while back, but I didn't find the quality of the answers that good, and anyways PH has grown and there are new users who may like to view/answer this question.

I'm more interested in the upper limit before it becomes harmful (e.g. like chornic cardio).

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 10:48 PM

Okay fair enough. I agree that I can't see it being a negative thing. There's that issue of it being smarter to overshoot than undershoot.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:52 PM

My contention is that there is no amount of walking that a human could realistically do in a day that is actually going to decrease longevity, provided that factors like pollution etc. are accounted for. On the intensity spectrum, walking is so close to sitting that there really isn't a risk.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:37 PM

If you would remember, my original objection was to the statement that it is a linear relationship between amount of exercise and benefit, that there is no upper limit, and then prescribing a mandatory quota, which is fairly substantial, no whether or not any exercise at all is good. But thanks for the references, I have been trying to find evidence to answer this question, which is not whether or not some exercise is good, but how much is best.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:34 PM

If you would remember, my original objection was to the statement that it is a linear relationship as seen in this quote " Citations for a linear relationship between time and health benefit". But thanks for the references, I have been trying to find evidence to answer this question, which is not whether or not some exercise is good, but how much is best.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:14 PM

I don't see an upper limit either. Walking never produces the same sort of conditions that you'll observe in prolonged steady-state cardio.

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:03 PM

Are you seriously asking for him to prove that physical activity is good for you? Seriously? Just because you disagree with some conventional wisdom doesn't mean you have to disagree with all of it.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:42 PM

I think using Paleo Hacks is increasing my all-cause mortality due to how infuriating it is to talk sense into braying mules. I better go take a walk to balance it out.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:40 PM

http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/14/Supplement_I/14_S26/_article http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/4/799.short http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2001/06001/Physical_activity_and_all_cause_mortality__what_is.16.aspx http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1428820 Here's a pretty good review: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724493/

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:25 PM

*sigh* http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199801083380204 http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/12/1440 http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/165/12/1343.short http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/100/1/9.abstract http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021067 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435606002563 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003335060000353X This is another Paleo Twilight Zone moment where I am arguing with an exercise skeptic. Sometimes I wonder....

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Have we not all seen piles of studies pointing to health benefits of walking? How many have you seen (that weren't conducted in Mexico City) that showed health markers declining with more walking?

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:12 PM

^ "We don't really know; go by feel" <----This

007c02eea7bdf63422562667aaf81f0f

(100)

on November 13, 2011
at 04:31 PM

I hit my "upper limit" around mile 6 of a 10 mile hike yesterday. The next four were a study in pulling the pin and holding the grenade. Of course, seeing as this was my first long hike in almost a year, I suppose that isn't surprising. I typically go for a walk to loosen sore muscles, but it was walking that made these muscles sore, so I'm not sure that will work. Ah, first world problems...

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 04:11 PM

Yes Jayjay, but it is baseless speculation. As Mat Lalonde pointed out in his AHS talk, saying that something was present during our evolution and therefore we are likely to be adapted to require or benefit it is a non sequitur, there is really no rationale to any of it. In the case that we have no actual data, making huge recommendations on what is in truth the basis for a hypothesis and no more is unwarranted. Instead of "the more walking the better, you need to walk tons because the Hazda do it!" the skeptical approach would be "we don't really know, go by feel".

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:43 PM

Isn't "these guys do this so you should too" a pretty large portion of how the paleo lifestyle has been fashioned? And BTW, I see nothing but good occurring with the amount of walking we are talking about in this thread.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:40 AM

I think the only realistic way that walking is going to increase mortality is if you get hit by a car or struck by lightning/wayward albatross or something.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:33 AM

Thanks for answer Travis. It is what I suspected, although Kamal's question still lurks at the back of my mind.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:32 AM

Stabby, I feel Travis has made a lot of valuable contributions to this community. It is clear from his writing that he has been doing a lot of thinking on these topics. I am disappointed to see that many are reacting so negatively and non-constructively to his ideas.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:17 AM

I can't really see an upper limit. All walking does, after longer durations, is burn body fat which could afford one literally days of walking even at the leanest body compositions.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Odds are the increase during the exercise would lead to a decrease at rest, which would presumably even out.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:31 AM

What if walking a lot (meaning around 10 miles every day) is good for health, but not optimal for longetivity? That whole "the heart only has a limited number of beats" thing is supposed to be somewhat true, right?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:26 AM

In the absence of hard data, I always default to what is evolutionarily consistent (presumably that's the whole point of paleo anything). I then put the burden of proof on those who are arguing that something that deviates from that particular threshold in either direction is optimal. You think I should take a truckload of grapes' worth of resveratrol? OK, prove it. You think I'll be healthier using a motorized scooter instead of my legs? OK, prove it. There are likely things that actually are better since evolution = compromise, but I play it safe until I see evidence.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:21 AM

Sorry, Travis, I shouldn't have used sarcasm. But maybe they would be better off with less physical activity, or at least no worse off and That's a possibility, right? When hunter-gatherers become "civilized" they change their diets as well as their activity levels.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Let's not drag the Hadza into this; haven't they been through enough? "...there has been numerous attempts by successive colonial administrations, the independent Tanzanian government, and foreign missionaries to settle the Hadza, force them to adopt farming, and convert them to Christianity."

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:39 AM

No thanks; do your own homework. As a side note, the Hadza are said to have good manners, and so should you.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:00 AM

Got it .. but most would say that's the negative. Otherwise, walking is our normal activity. Now, if you meant what's the point of diminishing returns I think a minimum for health is around a mile per day. If you average less, it will depend on what types of movements make up your day to determine how much walking is needed to complete a healthy routine. If you average more than a mile there are probably diminishing returns but again it's a very natural activity for us.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:00 AM

Citations for a linear relationship between time and health benefit? Travis every single one of your arguments lately has been "these guys do this so you should too". You might want to substantiate your posts with actual evidence from here on out instead of these big sweeping assumptions based on non sequiturs. Is that fair? Probably not, the Hazda don't use logic and evidence so neither should we, right?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:58 PM

Got it .. but most would say that's the negative. Otherwise, walking is our normal activity. Now, if you meant what's the point of diminishing returns I think a minimum for health is around a mile per day. If you average less, it will depend on what types of movements make up your day to determine how much walking is needed to complete a healthy routine.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:36 PM

didn't say it was "cardio"... just wanted to know if there was a point of negative returns

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7 Answers

10
Medium avatar

on November 12, 2011
at 11:29 PM

There's no upper limit unless you're walking instead of sleeping (or while sleeping). I think 5+ miles is a good target and is consistent with the amount walked by some hunter-gatherer groups like the Hadza. I usually do 6-8 per day. It sounds like a lot, but once your feet/legs get used to it, it's effortless.

To put it in perspective, my mailman walks 15 miles every day that he works.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:33 AM

Thanks for answer Travis. It is what I suspected, although Kamal's question still lurks at the back of my mind.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:25 PM

*sigh* http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199801083380204 http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/12/1440 http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/165/12/1343.short http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/100/1/9.abstract http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa021067 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435606002563 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003335060000353X This is another Paleo Twilight Zone moment where I am arguing with an exercise skeptic. Sometimes I wonder....

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Have we not all seen piles of studies pointing to health benefits of walking? How many have you seen (that weren't conducted in Mexico City) that showed health markers declining with more walking?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:00 AM

Citations for a linear relationship between time and health benefit? Travis every single one of your arguments lately has been "these guys do this so you should too". You might want to substantiate your posts with actual evidence from here on out instead of these big sweeping assumptions based on non sequiturs. Is that fair? Probably not, the Hazda don't use logic and evidence so neither should we, right?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:39 AM

No thanks; do your own homework. As a side note, the Hadza are said to have good manners, and so should you.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Odds are the increase during the exercise would lead to a decrease at rest, which would presumably even out.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:26 AM

In the absence of hard data, I always default to what is evolutionarily consistent (presumably that's the whole point of paleo anything). I then put the burden of proof on those who are arguing that something that deviates from that particular threshold in either direction is optimal. You think I should take a truckload of grapes' worth of resveratrol? OK, prove it. You think I'll be healthier using a motorized scooter instead of my legs? OK, prove it. There are likely things that actually are better since evolution = compromise, but I play it safe until I see evidence.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:42 PM

I think using Paleo Hacks is increasing my all-cause mortality due to how infuriating it is to talk sense into braying mules. I better go take a walk to balance it out.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:37 PM

If you would remember, my original objection was to the statement that it is a linear relationship between amount of exercise and benefit, that there is no upper limit, and then prescribing a mandatory quota, which is fairly substantial, no whether or not any exercise at all is good. But thanks for the references, I have been trying to find evidence to answer this question, which is not whether or not some exercise is good, but how much is best.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:21 AM

Sorry, Travis, I shouldn't have used sarcasm. But maybe they would be better off with less physical activity, or at least no worse off and That's a possibility, right? When hunter-gatherers become "civilized" they change their diets as well as their activity levels.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:34 PM

If you would remember, my original objection was to the statement that it is a linear relationship as seen in this quote " Citations for a linear relationship between time and health benefit". But thanks for the references, I have been trying to find evidence to answer this question, which is not whether or not some exercise is good, but how much is best.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:31 AM

What if walking a lot (meaning around 10 miles every day) is good for health, but not optimal for longetivity? That whole "the heart only has a limited number of beats" thing is supposed to be somewhat true, right?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 10:48 PM

Okay fair enough. I agree that I can't see it being a negative thing. There's that issue of it being smarter to overshoot than undershoot.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:32 AM

Stabby, I feel Travis has made a lot of valuable contributions to this community. It is clear from his writing that he has been doing a lot of thinking on these topics. I am disappointed to see that many are reacting so negatively and non-constructively to his ideas.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:12 PM

^ "We don't really know; go by feel" <----This

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:03 PM

Are you seriously asking for him to prove that physical activity is good for you? Seriously? Just because you disagree with some conventional wisdom doesn't mean you have to disagree with all of it.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:52 PM

My contention is that there is no amount of walking that a human could realistically do in a day that is actually going to decrease longevity, provided that factors like pollution etc. are accounted for. On the intensity spectrum, walking is so close to sitting that there really isn't a risk.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:40 PM

http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/14/Supplement_I/14_S26/_article http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/4/799.short http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2001/06001/Physical_activity_and_all_cause_mortality__what_is.16.aspx http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1428820 Here's a pretty good review: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724493/

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 13, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Let's not drag the Hadza into this; haven't they been through enough? "...there has been numerous attempts by successive colonial administrations, the independent Tanzanian government, and foreign missionaries to settle the Hadza, force them to adopt farming, and convert them to Christianity."

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:40 AM

I think the only realistic way that walking is going to increase mortality is if you get hit by a car or struck by lightning/wayward albatross or something.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 13, 2011
at 04:11 PM

Yes Jayjay, but it is baseless speculation. As Mat Lalonde pointed out in his AHS talk, saying that something was present during our evolution and therefore we are likely to be adapted to require or benefit it is a non sequitur, there is really no rationale to any of it. In the case that we have no actual data, making huge recommendations on what is in truth the basis for a hypothesis and no more is unwarranted. Instead of "the more walking the better, you need to walk tons because the Hazda do it!" the skeptical approach would be "we don't really know, go by feel".

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:43 PM

Isn't "these guys do this so you should too" a pretty large portion of how the paleo lifestyle has been fashioned? And BTW, I see nothing but good occurring with the amount of walking we are talking about in this thread.

2
B5446cffa1cd02ebb3450960122feff2

on November 13, 2011
at 12:32 AM

Walk as far and as much as you can everyday simple

1
21b36b3de8ff31b0d41e7f0f4b5c1e03

(1688)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:47 PM

There are plenty of people who basically walk for a living, like the mail delivery people here in New York who presumably walk several hours every day. I don't think that's considered harmful.

0
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:46 PM

The Hadza do not walk on my polluted city... walking is good, in the right Context...

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:38 PM

Walking is good for you. Do as much of it as you can comfortably. You will know if you hit the "upper limit" of becoming harmful. For the most part the likely upper limits will be influenced more by your choice of terrain and/or foot wear. So the only "upper limit" I see as a possible negative would relate to mechanical break down. But, even this should not be a concern if you can choose more natural terrain to walk on.

007c02eea7bdf63422562667aaf81f0f

(100)

on November 13, 2011
at 04:31 PM

I hit my "upper limit" around mile 6 of a 10 mile hike yesterday. The next four were a study in pulling the pin and holding the grenade. Of course, seeing as this was my first long hike in almost a year, I suppose that isn't surprising. I typically go for a walk to loosen sore muscles, but it was walking that made these muscles sore, so I'm not sure that will work. Ah, first world problems...

0
4b8bf8683630d2acfb13303e5f311e71

on November 13, 2011
at 03:34 AM

My personal strategy for seeing if I am overtraining or overstressed is to measure my resting heart rate when I wake up. If it starts to elevate, then I back off on stressors like working out, staying up late, etc.

I've met others who've seen results with this method too, but YMMV.

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:33 PM

I know from previous conversations on PH that walking isn't normally considered cardio, even if you're walking a decent distance. I'm sure it's treading the boundary to cardio if you're carrying weights and walking as fast as you can resulting in elevated heart rate, etc.

In my 30s and 40s I considered 10 miles or more a great weekend hike but now in my 60s 3-5 miles is my preferred distance every other day.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:58 PM

Got it .. but most would say that's the negative. Otherwise, walking is our normal activity. Now, if you meant what's the point of diminishing returns I think a minimum for health is around a mile per day. If you average less, it will depend on what types of movements make up your day to determine how much walking is needed to complete a healthy routine.

C510febb9bed68b5cc4a09f076701e0f

(60)

on November 12, 2011
at 11:36 PM

didn't say it was "cardio"... just wanted to know if there was a point of negative returns

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 13, 2011
at 12:00 AM

Got it .. but most would say that's the negative. Otherwise, walking is our normal activity. Now, if you meant what's the point of diminishing returns I think a minimum for health is around a mile per day. If you average less, it will depend on what types of movements make up your day to determine how much walking is needed to complete a healthy routine. If you average more than a mile there are probably diminishing returns but again it's a very natural activity for us.

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