The father of Western medicine, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Walking is easy; it doesn’t require special or expensive equipment or athletic skills, just comfortable shoes and clothes you can move in. And it’s free!
Walking can be done anywhere safe; in the neighborhood, in a mall, around the house (outside or inside), around your workplace (outside or inside), in place – in front of the TV, while listening to an interesting talk or walk-cast, or while reading/listening to your favorite book or author.
Walking can be done alone or with others. Walking can even be done with your dog, a great walking coach and motivator.
Yet with all its simplicity, walking offers a myriad of health benefits. A recent study showed that adding just over 20 minutes of brisk walking per day can add over 3 years to our lifespan. The exercise has been scientifically shown to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA. In fact, walking may be the single most effective factor for better health.
Walking is an aerobic exercise. It is great for weight management and maintenance and walkers have less body fat than those who don’t walk. Walking lowers the risk of blood clots since the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart.
Walking is the perfect medicine for blood pressure reduction. It is as effective as jogging in lowering the risk of high blood pressure. The exercise improves blood flow and lowers the risk of vascular disease, and may help ward off dementia, the cognitive loss that often comes with aging. Walking is a good form of weight-bearing exercise which helps prevent osteoporosis, a bone thinning condition, as well as osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that causes joint pain. Walking reduces pain by triggering the body’s release of natural pain-killing endorphins.
Walking can reduce the risk of developing many forms of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and prostate. It has proven to prevent or control Type-2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar and also lowers cholesterol, and therefore the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can improve our mood, and may even help treat depression. Walking can spark creativity, open neural pathways, and increase brain plasticity.
Walking increases metabolism by burning extra calories, and helps prevent muscle loss. Walking utilizes core and abdominal muscles, and strengthens respiratory and circulatory systems. It fosters other healthy behaviors, improves sleep, and can relieve insomnia.
It may not be flashy, cool, or trendy, but walking may be an exercise truly devoid of downsides. According to growing scientific evidence, walking can deliver an array of benefits that are just as impressive as those gained from more complicated and expensive regimens. As Dickens said, “Walk to be healthy, walk to be happy”.
air date: 10/7/16
Listen to “Walk It Off – Diana Liberto 10/7/16” on Spreaker.