The story of  walking


YEET Home  Science So Who Invented Walking? Human Is Not The First Animal To Have Invented Walking? Study Found

By   Sophia Ava   YEET MAGAZINE | Updated 0439 GMT (1239 HKT)February 19, 2022

Recent work in neuroscience and comparative biomechanics suggests that long before the appearance of terrestrial species capable of walking (tetrapod vertebrates) ancient fish could walk on the seabed or the coastline on two fins, probably using the same circuits neurons than us. Several species of contemporary fish have certain dispositions to walk on the bottom or even out of the water  .

to have invented walking . It had already appeared in certain dinosaurs 180 million years ago, in particular in the tyrannosaurus.

The bipedalism of the first hominids dates "only" from about 2 million years ago, but man is not the first animal to have invented walking (it is probably Euparkeria Most birds have retained this ability, which is found more rarely in mammals and reptiles ).

Pedestrian walking was later the mode of travel for bipeds . It was used more or less skilfully from the appearance of the first hominids , about 2 million years ago. This mode of movement allowed a release of the front limbs, gradually allowing the manipulation of tools, simultaneously with walking. From then on, walking is no longer a simple means of transport, it becomes the means by which man projects his action. It thus accompanies the evolution of the human species by creating the conditions for the development of its intellectual faculties.

From the Paleolithic to the industrial era

Walking has long remained man's only means of transport along with running.

Even after the invention of the wheel , Roman legions traveled on foot, and walking was still widely used for customary travel in the Middle Ages when possession of a mount was an attribute of wealth. Thus, until around 1850, man could not accelerate his average speed of movement, which was around one meter per second. The maximum range is approximately 200  km/day thanks to the use of infrastructures and high-performance animal or wind power. For example, during the height of the Inca Empire , the messages could be transmitted in a few days through all the territory thanks to the network of roads and relays skirting the cordillera of the Andes . 200 km in 24 hours also seems to be the limit in competitive endurance speed walks 2 . On the other hand, in running distances of up to 300  km per 24 hours have been achieved ( Yiánnis Koúros ,October 5, 1997).

This difficulty of movement has led to two main lifestyles:

nomadism _

humanity lived in a nomadic state throughout the Paleolithic , the Mesolithic during which it gradually became semi-nomadic to begin to settle during the Neolithic . This way of life implies an acute knowledge of the territories traveled, often with a circuit logic whose latitude can range from 80 to 2,000  km . This way of life aims to make the most of the wealth of local resources, whether for the practice of gathering and hunting or the practice of pastoralism . It is estimated that in 1500 about 60% of the world's population practiced nomadism.

sedentary lifestyle

Appeared during the Neolithic, sedentary life involves going back and forth from a fixed point. This way of life then generally imposes a living space with a radius of seven kilometers, until the beginning of the 19th century  for a large part of the population, having walking as their only mode of transport, life took place entirely in this space. The exchange of products is done step by step, 90% of the products available have been produced within a radius of seven kilometers.

The invention of the automobile

It will be necessary to wait for the popularization of the automobile in the 20th  century to modify the relationship between man and walking . This invention then gives rise to the fantasy of the abolition of the constraint of space and time, which we find in the permanent search for speed. Functionally, walking is thus put in competition with a car accessible to all, but also with cycling and public transport. However, there are still many enthusiasts of walking, strolling, strolling, as well as nature lovers, mushroom pickers, golfers and other hikers.

Military story

Since time immemorial, soldiers have moved in homogeneous groups, among other things to parade , and walkinging is the mode of movement par excellence for infantrymen . These movements obey strict rules (manoeuvres on foot, MAP), the main elements of which are:

  • the style of step (sliding step in Great Britain, goose step of the German army under the Third Reich , etc.)
  • the rhythm which can be dictated by a sergeant-instructor ("left, left...") or by music (song sung by the soldiers themselves or accompanying music (see military walking (music) )
  • maintaining spacing in bends (trampling in place of soldiers on the inside of the bend so that the rank to those on the outside remains straight and sweeps the area like a radius).
  • etc

Walking as a mode of locomotion is contrasted here with modes of locomotion such as crawling , swimming and running .


The standing position and the fact that the displacement of the body mass takes place while it is supported by only one limb implies the exploitation of the sense of Static Balance (physiology) . Walking is defined by the fact that there is always at least one support on the ground, as opposed to running , in which there may be no support on the ground at any given time.

The entire muscle and bone system is put to work (without excess) during walking, which makes it a popular and often recommended form-keeping sport (see below ).

Different gaits of walking

On flat ground, below 4 km/h we speak of normal pedestrian walking, 4 to 5 km/h of dynamic walking, between 5 and 6 km/h of brisk walking and above 6 km/h, fitness walking.

Acquisition of bipedal walking by the child

After a period during which the child explores his world by crawling then walking on all fours, he will gradually get up on his legs, then try a few steps. This stage usually takes place between the 10th and 14th month . From the 7thmonths, the baby is in a sitting position and acquires autonomy of movement. From 10 to 12 months, he moves on all fours and manages to overcome obstacles. Controlling the movement of his body, he can then go from lying down to sitting or standing, with or without support. From 10 to 18 months, he walks on his tiptoes, his buttocks a little behind and his stomach a little forward, spreading his lower limbs to widen his base of support. The learning of balance is progressive, the child is the victim of falls in both directions until the 20th month, in particular because of his inclinations backwards and forwards 3 .

Comparison to other modes of locomotion

Walking is the most energy-efficient unassisted mode of locomotion   and the least stressful for the body. It allows you to move at an average speed of 5  km/h  .

Description of the mechanism

Walking is generated by the tilting forward of the body in a standing position, which causes a falling movement, caught up by the projection of one leg forward. In more detail, the walking is based on a double pendulum mechanism consisting of the legs and the arms. The pelvis is indeed naturally subjected to a rotation (anatomy) when one leg is projected forward because this movement is done by resting on the opposite leg. It is to counteract this rotation that the arms perform a movement opposite to that of the legs. Thus, the pelvis retains the same axis, which allows you to walk straight. Then, to catch up with the falling movement as long as the walk lasts, the back leg is in turn thrown forward using its potential energy ., which saves effort, while the arms perform the reverse movement, also using their potential energy. The walk is stopped by a straightening of the body.

Gait cycle

Eadweard Muybridge , Animal Locomotion , plate 2, 1887.

Cycle of human walking.

Definition It is the activity that takes place during the time when a lower limb finds itself in the same position when walking. As the step is the distance between two feet placed simultaneously on the ground, the gait cycle corresponds to two steps. When analyzing the gait mechanism, the gait cycle is broken down into different phases:

  • The stance phase which corresponds to the entire period when the foot is in contact with the ground. Its beginning corresponds to the initial contact (contact of the foot with the ground) and its end to the separation of the toes (loss of contact of the foot with the ground). It extends from 0 to 60% of the walking cycle, ie a duration of 60% of the walking cycle. It is divided into three phases according to the part of the foot that rests on the ground.
  • The taligrade phase . It begins with the initial contact of the heel and continues with weight bearing of the right lower limb. It extends from 0 to 10% of the walking cycle, ie a duration of 10% of the walking cycle.
  • The plantigrade phase . It begins when the foot rests on the sole of the foot and ends when the heel loses contact with the ground. It corresponds to the oscillating phase of the opposite foot. This phase extends from 10 to 50% of the walking cycle, ie a duration of 40% of the walking cycle.
  • The digitigrade phase . It begins when the heel is lifted and ends when the foot has taken off. It is accompanied by the transfer of body weight to the opposite leg. This phase extends from 50 to 60% of the walking cycle, ie a duration of 10% of the walking cycle.
  • The oscillating phase where the foot is no longer in contact with the ground and which allows the advancement of the lower limb. Its beginning corresponds to the unsticking of the toes and its end to the following initial contact of the same foot. It extends from 60 to 100% of the walking cycle, ie a duration of 40% of the walking cycle. It is divided into two phases according to the movement of the leg
  • The shortening phase
  • The elongation phase .

Walking as a mode of travel

Main article: Active mobility .

It can oppose different categories of travel modes:

  • it is non-mechanized and non-motorized;
  • it is individual.

A walker in Morocco .

In any movement of an able-bodied individual, walking constitutes the first and the last stage of the movement: to get to and from a vehicle if the movement includes one.

It is considered on average that in industrialized countries, the average distance of a walk as part of a trip with a goal is a few hundred meters (rarely more than 500). Beyond that, other modes of travel become more interesting and take precedence ( cycling , public transport , automobile , etc.).

Trips made entirely on foot therefore vary greatly according to the average length of trips by individuals in their city and according to the availability of alternative modes of transport, motorized or not.

Walking as part of a multimodal journey (eg walking + public transport) is highly dependent on the organization and availability of public transport, as it does not provide door-to-door travel.

Individual and collective benefits According to WHO epidemiological studies , the minimum physical activity is thirty minutes of brisk walking per day to maintain "good health". However, 20 to 50% of people have a physical activity below this level .

The time spent sitting in our sedentary societies represents a real danger to health. Cardiologist François Carré (Rennes University Hospital) insists on the need to practice moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day, including the easiest to practice in all circumstances: walking. According to him, walking 30 minutes a day prevents the development of/slows down the progression of many pathologies 7 .

The exercise it provides promotes health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease  . Non- polluting , it does not contribute to the increase of greenhouse gases .

Not requiring a vehicle , this mode does not involve the development of specific infrastructures or the reservation of spaces intended for storage (such as parking lots ).

The flexibility of walking as a mode of locomotion in relation to the nature of the terrain makes it possible to cross passages that are inaccessible by mechanized means (climbing stairs, mountain paths, etc.).

An international team of 14 researchers 9 followed 3,127 healthy adults (2,151 women and 976 men), aged 19 to 94 years. The study showed that the recommended number of steps per day for those who want to control their weight is 12,000 for women aged 18 to 40, 11,000 for women between 40 and 50, 10,000 for women aged 50 to 60 years, and 8,000 from 60 years. Men aged 18 to 50 should take 12,000 steps per day, and 11,000 steps from age 50, or 8 to 10 kilometers per day, to maintain an ideal weight.


The risk of bodily injury is relatively low: in urban areas, its frequency is comparable to that of a bicycle and slightly higher than that of a car.

Exposure to pollutants in the air is lower than in vehicles 10 .

Walking as a hobby and a sport

Walking, as a hobby, such as a simple walk or a hike, can be summed up by what Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about it , where dawdling is the rule.

“I can think of only one way of traveling that is more pleasant than going on horseback, and that is to go on foot. We leave at our time, we stop at our will, we do as much and as little exercise as we want.

We observe the whole country, we turn to the right, to the left, we examine everything that flatters us, we stop at all the points of view. If I see a river, I walk alongside it, a dense wood, I go under its shadow, a cave, I visit it; a career ; I examine the minerals. Wherever I like, I stay there. When I'm bored, I leave. I don't depend on horses or the postilion. I don't need to choose ready-made paths, convenient routes; I go wherever a man can go; I see everything a man can see; and, depending only on myself, I enjoy all the freedom a man can enjoy.

How many different pleasures are brought together by this pleasant way of traveling! without counting the health which strengthens, the humor which brightens. I have always seen those who traveled in good cars very soft, dreamy, sad, growling or suffering; and the pedestrians always cheerful, lighthearted, and content with everything.

How the heart laughs when one approaches the shelter  ! How tasty a coarse meal looks! With what pleasure one rests at the table! What a good sleep one gets in a bad bed! When we only want to arrive,post chair  ; but when you want to travel, you have to go on foot. , Émile or Education , “ Travelling on foot”.

In another register, walking can be practiced as a sport , with a key performance, in terms of time or distance covered, such as "athletic walking" or "sporty brisk walking", or "dancing walking". 'endurance' such as the Nijmegen four-day walking .


Main article: Hiking .

Hiking in Trentino-Alto Adige near Merano .

Hiking is an outdoor activity that consists of a practice of walking that aims to follow a route, marked or not . Hiking is both a leisure discovery of nature, a form of physical exercise and a cultural pleasure.It was in the 19th century  that hiking as we know it appeared. It differs from walking, practiced since the dawn of time as a means of locomotion, by its recreational aspect. One of the fathers of hiking is Horace-Bénédict de Saussure . He was not satisfied with conquering Mont Blanc but also covered many mountains: the Jura , the Vosges , the Forez, the Vivarais. The German Karl Baedeker ( 1801 - 1859 ) publishes guides in which he describes his pedestrian routes. In France, in 1837 , the first hiking guide in theFontainebleau forest  : Four walks in the Fontainebleau forest . In 1842 , Claude François Denecourt ( 1788 - 1875 ) traced his first path in this same forest. The “Denecourt trails” still exist. In 1872 , the Vosgien Club appeared in Alsace , which marked out the paths in the Vosges mountains .