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Podcast: Why Do We Walk The Way We Do?

19/12/2015 8:08 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Of late, the health and wellness sector has been really focusing on getting to the bottom of the running business. This aerobic form of exercise has several benefits -- the fitness website Greatist does a good job of listing as many as 30 reasons why you should be running. But, from the fitness aspect, the focus has slowly shifted to running correctly and more effectively. There are even health clinics that analyse (and suggest improvements to) your running style. The fitness editor of NHS Choices (a health website, funded by the UK's department of health) has written an insightful account of visiting one such clinic and getting his running style analysed.

That begs the question -- is this sort of analysis possible with walking as well? Is it possible to walk in a better, more energy-efficient manner? Samanth and Padma find out the answers in this episode of The Intersection.

What is also quite fascinating is how we ended up walking on two legs in the first place. The Smithsonian's website on human origins has a fantastic piece that traces the evolution of the human body with respect to walking. From changes in our bone structure, to the curving of the spine (which helps to lower impact), it provides a brilliant account of how the human body developed the ability to walk on two legs.

We may not spend a lot of time thinking about walking -- after all, we're pretty adept at it - but understanding the human walk has practical applications in several fields, particularly robotics. Researchers at Oregon State University, for example, extensively studied human and animal walks to develop a technology that they claim can achieve the "most realistic robotic implementation of human walking dynamics that has ever been done."

As Samanth, quoting John Bertram, author of the paper "Why we walk the way we walk", says, "By understanding what makes good walking, we can fix what's wrong with bad walking."

For more episodes of The Intersection, tune in here.

Picture: Shutterstock.com

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