By Pauline Geraci
There are countless physical activities out there, but there is one simple activity that has so many benefits! It’s not a new fad with a fancy name; it’s walking. Of all the physical activities that you can engage in, walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine during 5th century Athens said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Improve blood lipid profile
- Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
- Enhance mental well being
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
- Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
- Reduce the recurrence of some cancers
- Have a more positive attitude toward physical activity
- Improve resting heart rate
- Lower body fat and total cholesterol.
- Improve lung power, overall physical functioning, and general fitness
- Reduces the risk of breast cancer. Women who performed the equivalent of one hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours per week of brisk walking had an 18% decreased risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women.
- Lowers the risk of vascular dementia by about 70-75%
- Reduces the risk of hip fracture for post- menopausal women who walked 4 hours a week by 41%
The latest addition to that research comes from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Their conclusion: Risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, depression and other life-threatening conditions can be reduced through regular outdoor walking in groups.
According to the data, regular participation in a group walking program offers many benefits. “Statistically significant improvements were found in a range of widely used health measures; systolic and diastolic blood pressure resting heart rate, body fat, BMI, total cholesterol, VO2max, depression, 6-minute walk time, and quality of life for physical functioning,” the authors explained. Researchers also found that walking is a cost-effective and low-risk way of improving overall health. The researchers also suggested that doctors should prescribe that patients join a walking group for added health benefits.
Exercise, especially walking, is indeed medicine!