The wisdom and wellness of walking


Walking is most certainly the foundation stone for all exercise programmes. It anchors every single fitness regime and is a wonderful form of activity to strengthen and rejuvenate the whole body. Whenever I wear my favourite t-shirt, with the tagline “I walk to keep my sanity”, I am instantly reminded of the fantastic benefits that come with walking. It really clears the mind, provides an opportunity to engage with the landscape and creates a time in your day for building core strength.

The WOW factor of walking
Did you know that of all indigenous cultures that have been studied in depth, on average they walked 20 km each and every day? That is an incredible number and shows how critical the component of walking is to a daily routine and schedule. Have you ever considered how far your grandparents and great grandparents walked compared to you, and how far they walked during their normal working day? Well, what is the conclusion and lesson for us all? In the modern world we simply don’t walk enough.

Strength through walking
Recent research is showing that our ligaments and discs strengthen during our childhood and adolescence and maintain their strength through regular weight bearing exercises. Therefore in the current climate we unfortunately see more and more injuries to ligaments, tendons, discs and other cartilage type structures than we ever did before! One of the reasons is that these elements are not strengthened in what has always been the normal course of human activity.

Take the worry out of walking
Worrying, huh? Well it is concerning, but it is never too late to get going with a walking programme. Further research has shown that a thirty minute daily walking programme, five times per week (yes, that’s 30 minutes, in one go) can achieve wonders including the following:

* Improve bone density (recommended 10,000 steps per day to prevent osteoporosis)
* Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
* Lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and all the associated health complications
* Improve mood and decrease stress and tension
* Reduce the risk of age related glaucoma
* Reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer
* Enhance muscle tone
* Help manage symptoms of chronic low back pain
* Improve blood lipid profile
* Reduce the risk of coronary heart

Staggering isn’t it? It may be that the answer is just on your doorstep, literally. Personally, I walk with my dog, for 45 minutes each and every morning before work. I live in a hilly part of town, so that also helps with the exercise regime. Whether walking constitutes exercise or not is neither here nor there – it really is an essential human movement that we require, rather than an exercise in itself. I mean, we wouldn’t call breathing exercise! And the act of daily walking can add years and years to your life. A recent research study by the European Society of Cardiology followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60 and found that daily moderate exercise, such as thirty minutes of brisk walking, could in fact add an extra three to seven years to your life.

So what is stopping you? It’s time to get out there and get started – taking one step at a time! The benefits are plentiful and there are no negative side effects. You may have to rise a little earlier but spring is in the air and the daylight hours are getting longer.

A perfect time to put your best food forward.