The latest offensive on being fit comes in the form of something so simple, yet so very important to us on many levels: walking. It has become one of my chosen mediums in my assault on my body fat and overall health. Middle age has found me (even though I have been vigorously hiding from it) and my knees aren’t so appreciative of my zealous attempts to retain my youth, thus I have gotten smarter (I think) in my effort.
Let me share some facts about walking with you. Walking reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, colon cancer, and non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes. It improves blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and blood lipid profile. It enhances mental well being and helps to maintain body weight while lowering the risk of obesity. With walking being so simple and easy, I decided to stop looking the gift horse in the mouth.
Walking is just as beneficial as running, provided you cover the same distance. It’s like that scene in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” when Captain America is running around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, lapping Sam Wilson…and later Sam says he does what Captain America does, only slower. Running is certainly quicker but if you have the time, and want to go easy on the knees, walking is the way to go.
Besides the health benefits of walking, for me I get the most out of it from all the time I get to reflect and think. I do a four mile walk at a minimum of four times a week, and a maximum of six (I never walk on Sunday) and I find the time it takes me to do it is time well spent to get my mental wheels aligned again. Exercise itself is a great stress reducer, but when you can do some real thinking while doing it, it’s no wonder walking is touted as one of the best stress reducers available.
Let me also address the stigma that young people run while older people walk. While that is probably generally true based on the condition of the joints versus the risk of injury for older people attempting to run regularly, let me say that you need not be older to choose walking over running. Indeed, while I walk, I get into such a rhythm and walk at such a pace that I might as well start jogging…I even feel like it every now and then, but I stick to my goal and keep pushing the pace. By the time I get home, I’m drenched in sweat and ready to begin some cardio weight training (kettle bells).