Walking: One Step at a Time, Literally

People rarely brag that they’re good walkers. Even athletes tend to think of walking as easy.

Actually it’s a complex process requiring considerable coordination.

As Frank Forencich points out in Exuberant Animal, about eighty percent of time, you’re balancing on one leg or other. Which is why anyone committed to fitness should spend integrate lots of one-legged exercises into their daily routine (lifting weights, for instance, while standing on one leg, or on one leg on a balance board of “bosu” ball. Try it. It’s fun!)

We’re not even really bipeds, Forencich says. We’re basically monopeds.

Laurie Anderson seems to have known this when she wrote the lyrics: “When we’re walking, we’re really falling.” The accomplishment: We catch ourselves, over and over again.

What distinguishes us from apes? Spoken language, you might think. But the most important adaptation in human development was upright walking.

Millions of years before language and culture developed, we stood up.

In this sense, walking connects us to our ancestors & also represents progress: moving forward, one step at a time.


Mariah Burton Nelson
American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation
MNelson@aahperd.org

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