Walking – the Silver Bullet to Health and Vitality
The great news is that people are living longer today than ever before. But a lot of this depends on the lifestyle one chooses to follow.
So, what should we be doing to keep well and really healthy? The answer is: keep active.
Physical activity - the wonder drug
Physical activity has justifiably been called “the wonder drug”, with even small amounts of regular exercise providing enormous health benefits. Studies have shown that even 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise can prevent and help relieve many common chronic diseases. While any activity is good for you, the more you do, the better!
Walking - the near perfect exercise
How about walking? Walking has been described as a “near perfect exercise” with many proven health benefits. The problem is that most people are notoriously lax when it comes to walking. We think nothing of jumping in the car when we need to mail a letter, even if the box is just down the block.
The fact is that the average American walks only around 3,000 steps a day. Much too little to be of any real benefit. The fitness goal we should all be aiming for is 10,000 steps.
How to go about improving this
First thing is to find your baseline by establishing how many steps you actually walk on average each day. Your smartphone has many free apps that will do this for you. You’ll be surprised to see how far you are from the 10,000 goal. So, each week try and add 1,000 steps a day and keep building until you reach that goal.
The positive benefits of walking
The beauty of walking as a form of exercise is that it's available to everyone. Other than a pair of comfortable and supportive walking shoes, you don't need any special equipment. There's also no need for an expensive membership at a fitness center.
Some of the many proven health benefits of walking, include:
- Reducing obesity
- A stronger heart
- Stronger bones
- Protection against diabetes
- Reduction in high blood pressure
- Protection against depression
- Better cognitive function
How to reach the 10,000-step goal
Here are some ideas for improving your walking routine:
- Take the dog for a walk. If you don't have one, join a friend who does.
- Go for walks with family members or meet friends for a regular walk.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- While you’re waiting for a flight, walk around the terminal instead of sitting.
- Schedule brief walks during the workday. Put reminders in your calendar at regular intervals.
- Have a meeting with a colleague? Walk and talk.
- At the store, choose a parking spot further away from the entrance.
Keep safe while walking
In many parts of the world, walkers are really well catered for, with wide sidewalks and even dedicated walking lanes. Something that is often lacking in our big U.S. cities.
One of the problems with our suburbs is that the surface of the sidewalks can be very uneven. Often there are no sidewalks at all, with lawns stretching all the way to the tarmac, and no safe area at all to walk in. If you have to walk in the road, make sure to walk on the left-hand side, facing oncoming traffic. If you are walking at night, never wear dark clothing it’s going to be hard for drivers to see you. Consider wearing LED glow strips to make your presence even more obvious. Out in the countryside take extra care when walking, as traffic is likely to be moving at high speeds.
Push the pace
Once you’ve achieved your 10,000-step goal, move up to the next level by increasing your pace. Start off by counting the number of steps you take per minute.
About 100 steps a minute is a fair pace but try and raise that to 120 steps. With really vigorous walking you need to get to between 125 - 130 steps per minute. Any faster than this and you’ll basically be doing a slow jog!
So, keep walking, the brisker and the farther you go, the better for your health.
It’s an easy way to stay active. It’s always available, and it’s a tried and tested route to vitality and wellness. Why not get started today?