This piece of advice is right up there with mom’s advice to eat your vegetables. There really aren’t any downsides to walking, and there are a bunch of positive things that can happen to your health if you do walk more often.
Human beings are designed to walk. We are actually designed to walk pretty far. In our “hunter-gatherer” days we often had to walk long distances to gather food. And even when we became an agricultural society we still had to do a lot of walking out to the fields, around the fields, and back from the fields to plant, water, and harvest the crops.
Now in modern society we get to sit at a desk all day and type away at our computers. We hardly move from one spot at all. When we leave work we go and sit in a car, then we go home and sit down. We never really walk that far at all. Is it any surprise that our middle sections are a bit thicker than we want them to be?
This article was inspired by some of the latest studies coming out about how sitting all day is killing us. Here is an awesome “infographic” entitled, “Sitting is Killing You”
Here is just one telling statistic from that infographic… “Between 1980 and 2000 the amount of exercise people were doing stayed the same, sitting time increased by 8%, and obesity doubled.” I think this statistic also has to do with what we were eating in that 20 year time span, but sitting down a lot more sure didn’t help.
Another statement that struck me as odd was that… “Of those that sit in front of the tv 3 hours per day, those that exercise are just as fat as those that don’t.” Folks, those couple of hours you exercise a week just don’t make up for all the other bad habits you do during the other 95% of your hours.
So if sitting down is bad for us, shouldn’t we simply just start standing up more often? Actually that is what a lot of people are starting to do in their offices. David Teten just wrote a great blog post on the 4 Hour Work Week blog called Reinventing the Office: How to Lose Fat and Increase Productivity at Work. It is some interesting stuff.
And you can do all that, but I would recommend that your simply get your body moving by walking.
It doesn’t have to be much. A lot of doctors recommend a simple 30 minute stroll after dinner. You can talk to a friend or loved one who walks right beside you, or maybe just spend 30 minutes with them on the phone while walking around the block.
You see it isn’t hard to do and it has so many benefits.
- Heart Health – People that walk daily have much lower instances of heart disease. Nothing gets the heart pumping as well as a good brisk walk.
- Better than Running – Most people know that running, especially on pavement or concrete, is hard on the joints. You can still get all the benefits of running by simply walking for the same amount of time, not necessarily the same distance. If you want to be a fast runner, then by all means go running, but if you just want to be healthy, walking will be your best bet.
- Bone Strength – Walking is also good for improving your bone density and preserving it into old age. Running can also improve bone density if not overdone, and weight lifting is the best way to improve bone density, but walking is perhaps the the healthiest way to keep your bones strong.
- Fat Loss – Again, walking may be the best way to lose fat. Yes, you can help yourself lose fat with just about any exercise, but you are guaranteed to burn out with most other exercises if you do them everyday. More intensive types of exercise cause an increase in the hormone cortisol which causes your body to repair itself, but also causes your body to retain fat, not lose it. Light exercise like walking will start the process of fat metabolism without causing too much stress on the body.
- Anyone can do it – And everyone should do it. With few exceptions, everyone can place one foot in front of the other and start walking. You can walk and talk with friends. You can walk to the park, or the grocery store. You can walk pretty much anywhere, anytime. Listen to some music. Think some deep thoughts. Anyone can do it. And maybe there are some hardcore exercisers who think walking is too easy. For you, you can try some hardcore uphill hiking. 🙂
But yes, walking is for everyone. I will leave you with a great quote from the Father of Medicine…
“Walking is man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates, Greek physician (460 BC – 377 BC)
Some of our oldest advice is still the best advice. Now go out and take a walk my friends!
This is our 22nd challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…