Reap the health benefits of walking
Updated: Feb 4
We've become more sedentary over the decades and things have gotten even worse with this awful pandemic! Adults, do you remember as a kid you used to walk everywhere: the corner store, your friends house, to the bus stop etc. Also, I'm sure you remember hearing the stories of your old aunties, uncles, etc. and how they would walk 10-20 miles just to get to school in the morning. In those days obesity barely existed! In part we have become more obese and sickly because we're not moving around like we're supposed to and each generation is becoming increasingly sedentary. If you have kids I'm sure it's a struggle for most just to peel them off the TV couch or away the video games. It's time to get back on track and to get moving! Walking has so many health benefits. Numerous studies have shown that walking can:
1. Reduce heart disease risk (1,2,4,5)
2. Reduce anxiety (1)
3. Decrease obesity (1,2,4,5)
4. Improve cholesterol (1,4,5)
5. Improve blood pressure (2,4,5)
6. Improve respiratory fitness (2,5)
7. Improve bone strength (2)
8. Improve brain health (4)
9. Improve physical conditioning (4,5)
10. Reduce your chance of death (2,3)
You can reap the health benefits of walking by doing at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week at a moderate pace. Walking is also a great exercise since it requires no extra expenses and it doesn't strain your joints so the risk of injury is low. Always remember your health should be your top priority because without your health everything else in life goes out the window. If you are having difficulty getting started here are a few pointers:
Get a fitness tracker as people tend to walk more when they can visualize their steps.
Park you car as far away from the store or from your job as possible to create extra walking distance. The extra steps will significantly add up over time.
When you talk on the phone simply go for a walk rather than sit down. You can rack up hours of exercise this way.
If you listen to podcasts or audiobooks do so while going for a walk.
Put some headphones on and listen to music. This can energize you to go out and walk. People who listen to music have better workouts.
If you live in the city try to find a local trail or a walking route that is COVID-19 compliant.
Take family walks with your kids, spouse, or significant other.
If you have a dog: walk the dog.
Pick up a mini treadmill (see below)!
"Many daily things we do while sitting can actually be done on a treadmill or while walking" - Dr. Damien Hansra MD
You can pick up a mini treadmill from Walmart or Amazon starting at $229 and they range up to about $500. Most people don't have extra space for a traditional treadmill and they are usually pretty ugly looking unless they are placed in a home gym. Most of us don't have home gyms! Mini treadmills are much smaller, compact, lightweight, and foldable so you can just keep it under your bed or closet. Also, they are far cheaper than traditional treadmills which usually start around a thousand dollars or more. I love my mini treadmill and I use it while talking on the phone, or watching TV where I otherwise have been sitting on my butt! Check out the video on the mini treadmill.
The bottom line
Walking has so many health benefits and it is a no-cost, low risk exercise option. To make walking a routine realize that health should be you priority then start to substitute things you do everyday for walking. For example walk and talk on the phone instead of sitting down. Also get a mini treadmill to facilitate the need for going outside. On the mini treadmill you can browse social media, watch television, listen to music, do computer work, and talk on the phone. It's time to start walking for better health!
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Rippe JM, Ward A, Porcari JP, Freedson PS. Walking for Health and Fitness. JAMA. 1988;259(18):2720–2724.
Morris JN, Hardman AE. Walking to health. Sports Med. 1997 May;23(5):306-32.
Zhao W, Ukawa S, Kawamura T, Wakai K, Ando M, Tsushita K, Tamakoshi A. Health Benefits of Daily Walking on Mortality Among Younger-Elderly Men With or Without Major Critical Diseases in the New Integrated Suburban Seniority Investigation Project: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Epidemiol. 2015;25(10):609-16.
Wojtys EM. Keep on Walking. Sports Health. 2015;7(4):297-298.
Hanson S, Jones A. Is there evidence that walking groups have health benefits? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(11):710-715.
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