A retiree walked the equivalent of Earth’s circumference over four years in his hometown, The Independent reported. Vinod Bajaj of Limerick, Ireland, began his light exercise in 2016; it recently surpassed 40,075 kilometers (24,901 miles). It began as a weight-loss exercise.
According to The Independent, Vinod Bajaj didn’t have to leave his hometown to travel around the world. “A retired business consultant has walked the equivalent of the circumference of the Earth without leaving his home city,” the article said. “Vinod Bajaj, 70, walked 40,075 kilometers over the past four years in Limerick, in the west of Ireland.
“Mr. Bajaj, who was born in India and has lived in Ireland for 43 years, finished his extraordinary feat in September after completing more than 54.6 million steps in 8,322 hours and burning almost 1.5 million calories in under 1,500 days.”
The article stated that he plans to apply to the Guinness World Records to be recognized for achieving the world record of being the first person who has walked the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference.
Bajaj simply began his walks as an easy way to lose some weight. All too often, we take walking as a form of exercise for granted, though it most certainly can lead to weight loss.
Walk for Life
The health benefits of walking seem obvious now, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, walking for fitness only became well-known in our lifetime.
“Walking for fitness first gained popularity in the United States in the ’80s after cardiologist James Rippe, a graduate of the Harvard Medical School, published details of how beneficial walking was for his patients recovering from a heart attack,” said International Fitness Expert Dean Hodgkin. “Dr. Rippe wanted to know if these benefits could be extrapolated to the general population. With a team of researchers, he set up the Rockport Walking Program in Massachusetts.”
Dr. Rippe published his findings in 1989, causing a media frenzy and a massive uptick in fitness walking. Hodgkin said that Rippe’s findings explained how walking can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol and indeed lead to weight loss.
“Rippe’s study tested 500 people and found that 67% of the men and 90% of the women could reach their target heart rates by walking 4 to 4-1/2 miles per hour,” Hodgkin said. “During competitive walking, intensity reached approximately 85% of maximum heart rate.”
Feeling the Burn
Dr. Rippe estimated that walking briskly for 45 minutes per day, four times a week, is enough to lose 18 pounds a year, even without changing diets. Other data that Hodgkin presented, which looked at walking up steeper inclines and faster paces, was even more surprising.
“If you weigh 150 pounds—that’s 68 kilos—and you walk 3-1/2 miles per hour, [which is] about 5.6 kilometers an hour on flat ground, you’re going to burn about 300 calories per hour,” he said. “However, if you walked up just a 4% incline, you’d burn 400 calories an hour. If you walked up a 10% incline, you’d burn a whopping 500 calories per hour.
“Now if you pick up the pace as well, say to just 4 miles per hour or 6.4 kilometers per hour on level ground, you’ll burn 350 calories per hour. And that’s pretty good for just walking.”
Meanwhile, those who walk at race walking speeds burn up to 600 calories per hour. Walking a 12-minute mile burns as much as 50% more calories than a 20-minute mile. This means that not only do you burn more calories as you walk, but you also can spend less time exercising to get the same results.
Even though Vinod Bajaj has applied for a world record as the first person to walk the circumference of the Earth, you can take up fitness walking to reap the multiple health benefits, without setting world records.
International fitness expert Dean Hodgkin contributed to this article. A three-time World Karate Champion and a two-time European Karate Champion, Hodgkin earned a B.Sc. honors degree in Mathematics and Management Studies from the University of Portsmouth. He continued his education at Leicester College, where he was awarded the Certificate in Exercise and Health Studies by the Physical Education Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.