As a child, I walked to school the majority of my days, whether it was a sunny, thunder storming, snowing, or scorching hot. My middle school years were the longest walks, so long that my classmates on the school buses would ride past me laughing while I carried my backpack and sometimes my trumpet for 3-4 miles per day roughly at varying paces. Sometime I would power walk depending on the weather or if I needed to be somewhere on time, other times I would be strolling and laughing with a friend. When in school, my classmates would say things like “I don’t know how you walk that far with all that stuff”, “you walk so fast”, or ask me “how long does it take you to get where you are going?” but to me, it was just another ordinary day walk to and from school.
Although my classmates had jokes and comments about me walking to school for such a distance, I noticed I was always in better shape and at a healthier weight than they were, while they were the opposite. I would like to think that all my days of walking to and from school helped contribute to my good health through the years and based on research, it most certainly did. Check out some of the health benefits you can obtain from walking regularly.
- Increase energy and stamina
- Prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy weight
- Promote bone strength and prevent osteoporosis
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
- Improve your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Better sleep
- Improve memory and reduce your risk of dementia.
When we are born, we usually go through phases of movement that we acquire for mobility as we age such as rolling over, holding ourselves up, crawling, standing, walking, and then finally running. Now, consider all those phases when it comes to your current lifestyle; if you do not exercise at all, it is a good chance you do not run or jog regularly. If you have a job that does not require standing or moving often, you have a sedentary job not providing much physical activity. Finally, since you are no longer a baby, you do not crawl or rollover on a regular basis leaving you with walking to be your primary form of physical activity.
Here in America, we fail to make the most basic and natural form of physical activity, walking, an effective form of physical activity when it comes to our health. Through observation, I noticed that most people walk for a brief period of time or a short distance just to sit back down, or to get in a vehicle to take them somewhere. It is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. If walking is your primary form of physical activity, you must walk at a speed of at least 3-4 mph to be effective. The last time I checked, getting up to get the remote for the tv and returning to the couch does not count as moderate physical activity nor does strolling through the mall leisurely at a slow pace repeatedly stopping.
Walking is being taken for granted due to all the conveniences and technological advancements at the expense of peoples’ health. People no longer walk for a sufficient amount of time or briskly enough to reap the health benefits. It’s time for a change if we want our health back.
If going to the gym to exercise, jogging around the block, or sprinting is too much right now, that is ok, remember good old fashion power walking will suffice. That is what I did half the time while walking to and from school or other places I wanted to go when younger. It does not require any special equipment or special clothes; it is low impact making it easy on the joints and does not require any athletic ability. If you need structure and support to be physically active, that is when a fitness professional such as myself can step in and assist you, taking it one step at a time. Just reach out to me with an email stating that you are ready to step up and make a change in lifestyle, so we can get started with something simple and effective as walking, basic nutrition, and lifestyle modifications.
Be Healthy, Be Balanced, Be You