Walking – Rucking

Me in a mirror while rucking the streets of Kasugai.

What? Walking around with a backpack weighing roughly 20% of your body weight for as long as you feel like. Some consider it the perfect exercise for those that don’t like the gym (me) and aren’t that fond of running either (sometimes me). The military have been doing it forever and it seemed to have caught on in the United States as an exercise a number of years ago. Michael Easter explains in The Comfort Crisis that humans have been hauling extra weight around for millennia and carrying heavy things is something we’ve been missing out on in recent times with our first world comforts. I’ve also recently been inspired by Peter Attia’s Centenarian Olympics concept and want to improve strength for improved quality of life and rucking seems like a good alternative to a number of gym exercises that Attia recommends.

So for the past month I’ve been exploring my neighbourhood early morning to beat the heat with 16kgs of packed weight for 7kms (just over one-hour’s worth of walking), trying to create a route that adds as many pedestrian bridges, slopes, big curbs, and anything else that could possible simulate a hike in the mountains. Sometimes I take a camera along and occasionally I break out the earphones for some music or a podcast but I usually wander the urban blandness with just my early morning thoughts. Yes, there can be a spiritual element to it, too if you want it. My gear is minimal – a photography backpack full of heavy books and some recently added 1kg wrist straps.

And guess what? I think it works. It’s not as cardio intense as I’d like (I guess I could walk faster), especially compared to cycling or running, but when it comes to core strength it seems to be working wonders. I haven’t had a sore back since I started and a niggling injury I’ve had in my groin (which started while running) seems to be getting much better. Being alone first thing and filing away random thoughts from the previous day also negates the need for writing Morning Pages (something I’ve been doing on and off for years).

Last weekend I hiked my local Three Peaks hike and felt stronger and lighter than ever!

As the years tick by I feel the need to strengthen every muscle in my body to fight off inevitable age-related injuries. Rucking may not be a substitute for actual hiking but it gets pretty close, especially if you live in an urban environment like most of us do. And as it suddenly dawned on me a few days ago if all goes well I might only have about 20~25 summers left of quality mountain hiking. That makes it all the more imperative to make the most of what I have today and stay as strong and injury-free as possible (for someone who dislikes the gym).

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