Hi, I’m Dr. Chad Larson. We’ve spent a lot of time on the podcast, especially the last several episodes, talking about nutrition and diet and things we can do to support our immune systems. Last time, I talked about five key things you can do during flu season to help bolster your mucosal immune system. And one of the things I talked about was exercise. I mentioned that just a simple walk could be enough to check the box, to get out and have some physical activity. And if you do it outside, then you have the added benefit of getting some sunshine. And that will help with vitamin D conversion in your body. I’ve talked about it a bunch of times. We know that vitamin D is key for the immune system.
But today I thought that I’d take a moment and talk about another form of exercise that you can do just by walking outside, and I’m doing it right now. It’s called “rucking.” If you’re not familiar with rucking, basically it’s when you just put some weight in a backpack and go for a hike or a walk. And carrying the extra weight does some really cool things.
I’ve been doing this for years. It’s a great way to exercise if you’re into walking or hiking but maybe don’t like running as much. I still like running; it’s a great form of exercise. But I also like rucking because it’s another way to get outside and explore. And also it can be easier on the hips and the knees than running, so it’s pretty cool.
Right now I’m actually wearing a rucksack, and like any good rucksack it has extra padding that goes around the shoulders. Because when you’re putting thirty, forty, fifty pounds of weight in the rucksack, padding makes it ride a little easier on the shoulders. But you still have all the weight to carry around, so you get all those cool benefits.
They’ve done some interesting studies on this and it can be close to on par with running, as far as fitness and calorie burning. Say you have a two-hundred pound man going for a run, say at a five mile-per-hour pace, which is about a twelve minute mile. He’ll burn about 755 calories. That’s a pretty decent amount of calories to burn in an hour. A two-hundred pound person going for a 3.5 mile-per-hour walk will burn about 391 calories in an hour. That’s significantly less than running. But suppose you go with a ruck, so it’s a weighted hike. With substantial weight in a backpack, the two-hundred pound man walking at the same pace burns about 585 calories. That’s 755 with running and 585 with rucking. It’s about 50% more than walking, and it’s almost as much as running, as far as calorie burning.
It’s really cool because your heart rate definitely goes up more than just walking. Your breath rate goes up more. So you’re getting those cardiovascular, aerobic type reactions going on in your body, and you burn more calories.
But there are some other cool benefits. Like I said, you get outside, you get sunshine, you get to explore the nature around you. But also you can really feel the weight on your back and your shoulders. And rucking is the most fundamental form of physical fitness that military guys do, especially in the Special Forces.
-Dr Chad Larson
Through social media I follow Jason McCarthy who is ex-Special Forces Army and who created the company where I got this rucksack, on his website called GORUCK. He developed this rucksack for civilian use. You can use it just as a basic backpack, but it has a lot of extra sturdiness so that it can handle a lot of weight. Jason explains that this is what develops good strong backs for soldiers, for people in the military. All this weight on your back is great as cardiovascular exercise and fitness. Really gets the aerobic system going. But it’s also a great back strengthener because it makes all these muscles have to engage and work.
So, it’s a great way to exercise, something to think about. You don’t have to start with thirty, forty, fifty pounds. You can start with just ten or fifteen pounds, depending on how much you weigh, and slowly ramp it up. As it gets easier, you’ll see that you can take more and more weight. But it’s a really cool way to add to your exercise. I don’t know about your area, but in my area the gyms are shut down, so you have to be creative in how you get your strength training and fitness. And rucking is a great way to do both. You get strengthening exercise for your back and shoulder muscles, and obviously your leg muscles. But also you get a good aerobic and cardiovascular workout. So, go ruck. It’s a great way to exercise.
So, I will keep reading the studies and bringing you the information. Until then, keep it real.