Discovering the pulse of better health often takes us through various walks of life. Recently, I had the pleasure of encountering an authentic health pioneer, Gerardo Martinez. Born in 1935, this 88-year-old dynamo could give any youngster a run for their money when it comes to fitness!
Gerardo's introduction was courtesy of his daughter, Bex, my dear friend. I had heard tales of Gerardo's exceptional fitness regimen, but sometimes, I feel stories can be slightly embellished, especially when narrated with the pride of a daughter's love. Yet, seeing is believing, and meeting Gerardo was nothing short of an inspiration.
He moved into his house in Cambrills, Spain about 20 years ago and the estate agent when showing him around, said, “in this garage, you can easily fit 2 cars”; Gerardo smiled and told him:
And boy, has he kept his word.
Every day and I mean EVERY DAY, Gerardo wakes up without an alarm clock, puts on his trainers and takes an early morning stroll and depending on how he feels, covers between 8 to 12k (5 to 7.5 miles). Well, I say stroll, but his pace is a vigorous 114 steps per minute, which is very brisk indeed.
On returning home, Gerardo puts on his swimming shorts and then heads to the beach where every day between Easter and Christmas Day, he swims for 20 to 30 minutes. Not paddles, but swims.
He told me that his final swim of last year, ended quite interestingly. He had bought some new swimming trunks and when he arrived at the beach, the waves were really big. But he thought to himself, well it’s the last swim of the year so I better go in. After a few minutes one big wave tumbled him like he was in a washing machine and he instantly knew something was wrong. His new trunks had been torn off and he had to walk home completely naked. But with his positive attitude and a smile, he told me, “thank god it was Christmas Eve, because virtually nobody was about”!
Then after his swim, he puts back on his trainers and goes for another walk, again at a good pace and again between 8 to 12k. When he returns home, he enters his garage and with an iron bar loaded with 15kg water bottles hanging off each side, completes a set of bench presses and performs a series of stretches for 20 minutes or so.
With all his exercise done, he goes and has a cold shower. I asked him how frequently he took it cold and he said:
Then he sits down to read. He doesn’t like fiction, but loves astronomy, health books and alternative and herbal medicine books, he also regularly challenges himself by trying to read books in different languages.
Then I asked him about his diet. He laughed and said, “Bex said you would definitely be grilling me about my diet. I am so active I don’t have to pay that much attention to it. That said, I only eat real food, no packaged food, no take aways just real food. And I love to go round to my friends’ houses and they all cook real food too, we share some wine have a good laugh and then I try to go to bed at a sensible time”. I asked him how many hours he sleeps and it was the only question I didn’t really get a straight answer too, he said, “enough, I wake up when I have had enough”.
When I wrote my initial health book, "Primal Cure," in 2017, I hoped of someday meeting someone who had lived life primally for many years, echoing the lifestyles of our distant ancestors. Gerardo affirmed that living in alignment with our inherent design indeed yields positive outcomes. My ambition is to emulate Gerardo's vigour in my later years. In fact, I have a goal to kitesurf at 80, snowboard at 85 etc (I will write a blog shortly on goal setting).
When I asked Gerardo's what motivated him to keep up his impressive routine, what were his goals and aspirations, he remarked:
I now want to delve deeper into the significance of walking, a central element of Gerardo's daily regimen and look at some recent research.
Ever pondered over the rhythmic sound of your footsteps during an evening walk? Each step is not just a physical motion but a leap towards a better, healthier future. While the golden rule of "10,000 steps a day" echoed through health corridors, a fresh revelation paints a slightly different and more encouraging picture. The narrative of this journey just became more inclusive and achievable.
Recent studies have shed light on a transformative discovery. You might not need to clock in the daunting 10,000 steps daily to start reaping health benefits. In an extensive analysis involving over 226,000 individuals globally, it's revealed that as few as 4,000 steps are enough to diminish the risk of premature mortality. That's right, only 4,000 steps to begin your journey to a better health outcome.
Every Step Counts
While 2,300 steps positively impact your heart and blood vessels, don't stop there. Every journey is about progression, and each additional 1,000 steps after the initial 4,000 can decrease your early mortality risk by a striking 15%—all the way up to 20,000 steps.
Meaning that for every step you take, you're not only working towards better cardiovascular health but also towards a longer, more vibrant life.
I believe the beauty of this revelation lies in its universality. Whether young or old, male or female, every step we take counts. This research, a collaboration between the Medical University of Lodz in Poland and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US, underlines the benefits of walking for everyone, irrespective of age, gender, or residence.
The Timeless Mantra of Lifestyle Over Medication
Amid the rapid advancements in drug therapy, Prof. Maciej Banach of the Lodz University emphasised a timeless truth. The real heroes combating cardiovascular risks might not be nestled in medicine bottles but embedded in our daily choices. Diet and exercise, especially our humble walk, could be as effective, if not more, in championing better health and a better future.
Your Path Awaits
So, lace up those shoes and embrace the path ahead. Whether you're aiming for 2,300 steps or boldly venturing towards 20,000, know that every step is a stride towards better health.
And I know I have written this line many times, the best time for many of us to have changed our nutrition and lifestyle may have been 20 years ago, but the second-best time is today. This viewpoint on how to achieve better health, better life and a better future, fits perfectly with walking, as the journey of a thousand miles, or in this case, steps, begins with one.