As we move rapidly through November and approach Thanksgiving It seems a good time to discuss walking as a means to combat the tendency to be less active during the more inclement weather that is prevalent, especially here in Oregon. As Oregonians we are accustomed to the local form of high humidity known as eighty percent chance of rain. This median is interspersed with patches of really inclement weather, and the occasional gem of a day when the sun finds its way through the moisture in the air and it seems as though it should be warm, but it’s not.
Man was designed to walk. Whether you believe in divine creation or simply think that we are the result of a series of improbable cosmic collisions and spontaneous generation, from the moment that man appeared on this planet he was destined to walk. It is in his genes, in his design. Running can work for a while, but requires a lot of fuel and a well-tuned body. Riding is easier, and often faster, but tends to preclude walking. If we ride everywhere, we miss out on the healthful benefits of self-locomotion.
Some of the proven health benefits of walking regularly include, but are not restricted to;
- Reduced threat of heart attack and stroke.
- Reduced HDL cholesterol levels
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced body fat & weight
- Reduced risk of adult onset diabetes
- Increased bone density and prevention of osteoporosis
- Increased flexibility
With all those health benefits it is only natural that people who incorporate walking into their daily regimen will, on average live longer with fewer impairments to a healthy and comfortable life at every age. When you are active and fit you have half the risk of cardiovascular disease, you are less likely to sustain injury due to increased flexibility. You sleep better and are less prone to depression and anxiety. When you are fit you have more control of your body weight and shape, leading to better self-esteem as well as more resistance to disease.
When walking for fitness, there is a common gauge known as “the talk test.” You should walk as fast as possible while retaining the ability to hold a conversation. Walk briskly, but not so that you are struggling for breath. Aerobic exercise is carried out at a comfortable pace to ensure sufficient oxygen to the muscles. You should do aerobic exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes.
Surprisingly, a Loughbrough University study found that walking continuously for thirty minutes five days a week produced nearly identical fitness increases as splitting the thirty minutes into three ten minute walks and, even more surprisingly, that the split workouts produced greater weight loss and waist decreases than the longer walkers.
Getting and staying fit is really simple and requires little training or preparations. Walking is one of the most natural things that you can do, it feels good, and it is good for you. What are you waiting for?
Take a hike!!!