Walking man

Imagine being offered a pill that promised you seven extra years of life if you took it daily. There are no negative side effects. And it’s completely free. 

The only catch is that it takes 25 minutes each day to take this pill.

A daily 25-minute walk could add seven years to your life.

That’s the headline that got me out the door with my dog after dinner tonight. The summer heat has been my excuse for being less consistent about my daily walk. 

But even on a warm evening, I come back from a walk feeling better physically and emotionally. 

We are walking animals. It’s what we are wired to do. Our ability to stand upright and walk and run was key to becoming who we are.

But our modern culture is making us into sitting animals. Our prosperity and comfort, relative to almost all of our ancestors, is also making us weaker in many ways. 

I’m using modern technology, though, to motivate me to get off my butt more often. I use the Pedometer++ app to track my steps, and I aim for the green confetti that erupts on my phone screen when I cross the 10,000 step threshold each day. It’s silly that this motivates me, but it’s effective.

Our lives could be so much better engineered for walking. If we lived in walking distance of our work and shopping and leisure we would naturally be so much more active.

Urban life offers this advantage. I walked so much more when I lived in Washington, D.C. There was too much friction involved in driving.

If you can’t place yourself in a more walkable place, you can at least build walking into your daily habits.

Take your dog, your friend, your kids, your spouse. Or load up a podcast to listen to or some favorite music or just enjoy a quiet stroll. 

But if you walked a little more than a mile each day, you would not only add years to your life, you might add more life to your years.