Thursday, August 15, 2013

Walk yourself to better health

Modern society has made life very accessible for humans. We do not have to chase down animals in order to eat, and we have the luxury of travelling from one point to the other without ever having to walk. We can all attest that we are very thankful of modern inventions, which have made our lives much easier. However, with transportation that is readily accessible, we have neglected to do the simple things that humans were meant to do, like walking.

Walking helps reduce the chance of contracting heart disease. It lowers blood pressure, enhances your wellbeing and increases your bone density. Walking is not a complicated activity. A simple daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.

A study released by Statistics Canada in 2007 concluded that 48% of Canadians ages 12 and older walked less than 30 minutes each day. The study also found that in the period of a week, 10.8 million Canadians spent less than an hour walking to school, work or to do errands.

Walking is probably one of the least expensive exercises out there. It is not as strenuous as running, but moderate walking when done for a longer period of time can have similar health benefits to running. Walking is also a great way to be introduced to exercising, since there is low impact on joints. People who walk on a regular basis are much healthier than sedentary people.

Most walkers use time to measure their exercise. New research has shown that the farther you walk or run, the more you reduce the risk of contracting chronic diseases.

Tips to getting more distance out of your walk workout:
  •  Measure your distance and not the time (find routes where you can cover 3, 5, 8, or 10 kilometres) 
  • Increase the distance you cover as you improve your fitness 
  • Include one long walk and one speedier walk each week 
  • Quicken speed to gradually cover more ground 
  • Warm up, cool down and stretch 
  • Wear proper shoes, breathable clothing and socks 
For those who do not enjoy or have time to run or hit the gym, walking is a great option. Though it might take you a while to walk enough in order to gain the same health advantages which come from running, the benefits attained from walking will go a long way towards improving your health when compared to a sedentary individual.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF ECONOMIC LITERATURE EVALUATING THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF WALKING. Acta Universitatis Palackianae Olomucensis. Gymnica. September 2010;40(3):123. 
2. Bashir Z. Walk Your Way to Good Health. Parks & Recreation. June 2013;48(6):32-33. 
3. Epping J. Dog Ownership and Dog Walking to Promote Physical Activity and Health in Patients. Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College Of Sports Medicine). July 2011;10(4):224-227. 
4. Johnson S, Boulé N, Bell G, Bell R. Walking: a matter of quantity and quality physical activity for type 2 diabetes management. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism. August 2008;33(4):797-801. 
5. Kelly P, Murphy M, Oja P, Murtagh E, Foster C. Estimates of the number of people in England who attain or exceed vigorous intensity exercise by walking at 3 mph. Journal Of Sports Sciences. December 2011;29(15):1629-1634. 
6. Luthi W, Schnitzer C. Transform walking into the highlight of each day. Functional U. March 2006;4(2):1-6. 
7. Morgan A, Tobar D, Snyder L. Walking Toward a New Me: The Impact of Prescribed Walking 10,000 Steps/Day on Physical and Psychological Well-Being. Journal Of Physical Activity & Health. May 2010;7(3):299-307.

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