[Minimum] Steps to Get There

This is a follow-up on my post, The Maximum Human Life Span and Conjecture on Step Counts to Get There (15,000 Steps a Day). According to this research:

“By analyzing data on tens of thousands of people across four continents compiled between 15 existing studies, a team of researchers has now landed on a more comfortable figure: the optimal number is probably closer to 6,000 steps per day, depending on your age.”

-Mike McRae, “Scientists Identify The Optimal Number of Daily Steps For Longevity, And It’s Not 10,000.” Science Alert. March 4, 2022

This is a meta-analysis, which means it’s probably largely useless. But, it might be a good minimum level of steps to consider. Add in a weighted backpack, or rucksack, and it’s probably good, minimum advice.

Rucking, or Walking with a Weighted Pack on Your Back

A gallon jug of vinegar and two 24 oz salsa jars in an old running day pack makes for a 15 pound pack

“Just add a bit of weight to any old pack you have lying around the house, take a walk, and you’ll open up a whole new world of fitness…For the average guy, a 30-minute walk burns about 125 calories, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities. But throw a weighted backpack on and take that exact same walk, and you burn about 325 calories, also according to the Compendium of Physical Activities…“The cardio benefits of rucking are comparable to those gained from other long, slow distance exercises like jogging,” says Jason Hartman, C.S.C.S. who trains Special Forces soldiers for the US Military.

But unlike jogging—which has an injury rate anywhere from 20 to 79 percent, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine—rucking actually makes you more injury resilient, says Hartman…

A good place to start for general fitness is to use a weight that’s equal to about 10 percent of your total bodyweight, says Kechijian…Once you’re comfortable, you can progress up to 35 pounds, says John.

“You can go with 35 pounds on your back for days, months, years,” he says. “But once you start to sneak above 35 pounds, it can break down your body.”

-Michael Easter, “The Fitness Trend Men Everywhere Can’t Get Enough Of.” Men’s Health. December 25, 2015


Welcome to LongTrailsMap.net: Interactive 3D maps of long distance nature trails from around the world!

The purposes of the site are:

* To help members of the community find their next destination.

* To increase awareness of the long trails, especially the newer and lesser known long trails.

* To motivate the responsible development of new long trails, especially efforts to connect existing trails.


I always liked the idea of a several month walk. I’ve spent a week on the Appalachian Trail as a child, and I think spending some time on a long trail would likely be good for most people with the ability. I didn’t see it on this map, but The Trans Canada Trail is the current one that is top of mind.

Add Phone-Free Walking to Your Day

“Find a way to add phone-free walking to your daily schedule. Make it non-negotiable. Make it easy. Skip a bus ride from your house to the station. Get off a station earlier on the way to work. Use 30 minutes of your lunch break to walk to a far-off cafe. The important thing is to leave the phone off the body. It can be in a backpack, that’s fine. Keep it out of easy reach. Even better: keep it at home. I don’t know if the lightness will register for you, but it does for me. Phone, no phone, two entirely separate universes. Like starting the day with the internet on or off. A totally different quality of time and thinking. For me, the phone removed or reduced to a simple tool brings me back to the walks, and in being brought back to the walks I remember the floating consciousness, and from that, if I’m lucky, a dollop of grace.”

—Craig Mod, “Responses to SMSs Part 4.” Ridgeline. January 28, 2020.

Also, “all the best tricks to life seem to sound reductive and dumb when you say them out loud.”

Slow Travel

“An alpinist develops his power and gives proof of it; he feels and thinks simultaneously; this superior joy illuminates the snow landscape. But he who has taken an electric train up to the top of a famous mountain does not find the same sun.”

Emile-Auguste Chartier, “Diogenes” in Alain on Happiness. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1973.

The Chinese sage, Lao-tzu, said that: “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” We can arrive only if we begin.

But, let’s consider a specific 1,000 mile journey, from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Francisco, California. Google Maps helpfully indicates the time involved for different modes of transportation.

If flying, it would take 2 hours and 20 minutes. If driving, it would take 16 hours and 11 minutes. By bus, it takes 1 day and 2 hours. By train, 1 day and 14 hours.

However, something interesting happens when we moved to human-powered transport. By bicycle, it takes 91 hours. If we assume 8 hours of bicycling per day, it would take just over 11 days. Walking, by way of contrast, would take 324 hours. Assuming 8 hours per day of walking, it would take just over 40 days. It might be one reason, “Forty days and forty nights” used to be short-hand for a long time.

Whether you are looking at Paris to Lisbon, Berlin to Naples, Istanbul to Jerusalem, Cape Town to Durban, Brisbane to Melbourne, Nagasaki to Aomori, Kolkata to New Delhi or Beijing, China to Seoul, South Korea, the challenges of each journey are quite different, if you are biking or walking. However, if you are travelling by air, it is largely the same. It’s a slightly more than two hour flight that, in large part, is a homogeneity of experience. Air travel is the McDonald’s of travel. It is the more or less the same everywhere.

There are sites like The Man in Seat 61 that make this point about train travel.

“Many people want to cut their carbon footprint or are simply fed up with the hassle of flying – and a significant number of people are afraid of flying or medically restricted from doing so.  However, information on alternatives to flying is often difficult to find through a travel industry obsessed with flights, flights, car hire and more flights.

So the site aims to INSPIRE people to do something more rewarding with their travel opportunities than schlepping to an airport, getting on a soulless airliner and missing all the world has to offer.  It then sets out to ENABLE people to take train or ferry by giving the the confidence and know-how to book their trip themselves, or call the right people to book it for them at affordable prices.”

About Me, Seat61,com

The hassle of flying is that it is merely a means of transport and offers little in terms of experience. It is something to endure and get through. What makes travel rewarding is the experience of the journey itself, of being faced with challenges and surmounting them.

It is interesting to note that the main difficulty addressed above is of confidence and imagination. Flying is what everyone does in a world where there is a premium on efficiency and time. Seat61.com is trying to operate by a different set of values.

Of course, if we take this kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, then whatever advantages that train and bus travel provide in terms of making the journey itself worthwhile, then biking and walking offer even more advantages. If we look at it strictly in terms of time, presumably an extension of time by 45 in the case of bicycling and 162 by walking increases the richness of the experience by some function of that time, which factors in difficulty of arranging accommodations, food, water and the other necessities.

Maybe like with the Slow Food movement, we need a Slow Travel movement. If nothing else, it will help more people to see more possibilities beyond the default, live richer lives and contribute to increasing the possibilities of human flourishing.

The Radical Simplicity of Walking

“…travel on foot is slow. It is the speed that most of the human race experienced life for thousands of years, right up until the last couple of hundred years.

In the time span you have available for your adventure, you will see the fewest places if you decide to walk. But the places that you do see, you will truly see. And that is worth a lot.”

—Alastair Humphreys. “Let’s Hear it for the Radical Simplicity of Walking.” Adventure Journal.