by Lyne Desforges
Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Hiking/Walking Enthusiast
For the Love of Walking
- It is accessible to everyone
Young and old, we all know how to walk. It doesn’t require any special skills to do something we have been doing since we were toddlers.
- It is affordable
No special equipment required. Just a good pair of comfortable shoes and you are good to go. Investing in a rainproof jacket and rainproof pants may be a great way to ensure you can do walking in any weather. Remember…there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.
- It can be done anywhere
Just walk out your door and start walking. It’s one of the best ways to discover your own neighbourhood and to meet your neighbours.
- It can be done anytime
Just find a time that works in your schedule. Try for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Split it in 3 x 10-min. walks if necessary. My favourite is an early morning sunrise walk because it sets the tone for the rest of my day.
- It can be a great workout
Increase the speed of your walk, the length of time or the distance. Add some hill work or interval training. The possibilities are endless. Watch this short video for tips on how to turn your walk into a powerwalk for fitness.
Walking For Health
Here are the top 10 benefits associated with regular walking and exercise in general.
Motion is lotion
Our bodies are not made for sitting for long periods of time. Moving your body will actually help reduce pain and swelling in your joints. It’s no surprise that it is promoted as one of the best exercises by Arthritis Health.
Build Those Bones
Walking is a weight-bearing exercise and that means it helps build stronger bones and retain bone density.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Any movement that you do will help burn calories and boost your metabolism. A faster metabolism means that it will keep burning calories even when your body is at rest. The # of calories burned while walking will depend on the speed, the time and the distance your walk. As you increase the length and distances of your walk, you will notice how your muscles start getting tones and lean, especially in your legs, butt and core.
Improve Your Digestion
Taking a short walk after eating has shown to improve digestion by increasing gastro-intestinal mobility. Another study, found that a light 10 minute walk after each meal was more effective at balancing blood sugar in type 2 diabetes than walking for 30 minutes at another time of day.
Love Your Heart
An interesting study of 44 000 Canadians found that those who lived in walkable neighbourhoods had a lower overall risk of cardiovascular disease. Walking can also reduce blood pressure, and overall cholesterol levels.
Boost Your Mood Naturally
If you are in a bad mood, get outside for a long walk. I guarantee you will come back feeling much better. According to this study from Iowa University, it doesn’t even matter how long, or where you walk. The actual act of walking is enough to help.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
According to Harvard Health Publishing, any exercise can help with stress and anxiety because it distracts you, decreases muscle tension, builds resilience, and increases the availability of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and GABA.
Improve Your Balance
We are made to stand on our own two feet and move our body. As we age, it is even more important to continue walking. My own mother is 88 years old. She lives in a retirement residence. She walks every day, whether it is the corridors of her floor or around the perimeter of her building. The more she walks, the better she feels. She is one of the few residents who doesn’t use a walker or wheelchair.
Add Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years
According to this study, walking four times weekly for at least 15 minutes is associated with longevity in a cohort of very elderly people. And walking with friends and family will certainly make it a lot more fun.
Join a walking group in your neighbourhood or just invite friends and family to join you on a walk or hike. It is a great way to build relationships and to stay connected with your community. According to the authors of this meta-analysis, older people with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival when compared with those who are isolated or have poor social relationships.
If you need a little motivation to get you going, why not join a walking group or even start one. I have been a part of walking groups (Walking Fit & WOW Powerwalking) since 2003. I have spent many hours training for marathons and half-marathons with wonderful people. Walking will always be an important part of my life. I hope it becomes an important part of yours too.
If you want more tips on how to turn your walk into a workout, just watch this short video. Enjoy!