The hint of spring and warmer weather is here. Although as I type this it is about 10 degrees celsius outside, freezing and raining. But I have had a few glimpses of sunshine, in the last week or so, that has given me hope that summer is on its way. I even went for a walk last week in a t-shirt. Not a puffy jacket! Summer weather means getting outside and getting our bodies moving. And you know what? There are many reasons to walk, but in my opinion, getting a fit, hot, summer bikini-body is not the main reason. The benefits of walking will see you live a much longer and happier life so you can see many more summers in the future. I’ll take a long healthy life over a bikini-body any day.
Last week I filled your social media feed with reasons to walk. Those were just a mere few benefits to moving your body. In this week’s newsletter, I am going to tell you a few more weird but wonderful reasons to walk regularly.
My love of walking has always been there, I have always loved being outside and moving my body. But I haven’t always had good habits around it. About 10 or so years ago I decided I would walk every day for 2 weeks. EVERY DAY without fail was the promise I made to myself. I only had to do it for 2 weeks, but I would do it EVERY morning. I set my alarm for 5:30 am so I could go before work. And I kept my promise. And you know what? In those 2 weeks I learned to love it so much that I got addicted, it felt so good to start the day with the movement, that I kept it up! I didn’t have to run, I didn’t have to go fast, all I promised to myself was that I would go for a minimum of 20 minutes. I still try to walk everyday. I probably average 6 out of 7 days a week. Sometimes it’s a big long 12km jog (when my calf isn’t torn) some days it is a 20 minute walk to the shops and back. But I make sure I move.
The reasons I listed during last weeks social media about walking include:
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes.
2. It helps tame a sweet tooth.
3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.
4. It eases joint pain.
5. It boosts immune function.
But it can also:
6. Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Walking is not just good for your body, but also for your brain and mental health. The Arthritis Foundation
States that walking reduces Alzheimer’s risk by 50%. The study was done on men aged 71-93 who walked more than about 0.5km every day.
7. Improve your Heart Health and Lower your Blood Pressure
Walking can be an enormous help to your heart and cardiovascular health. Of course, I hope you have added walking to your routine BEFORE you have heart disease, but even if you have left your run a little late (pardon the pun) and you already have heart disease, walking can still be of great benefit. The Heart Foundation recommends getting active. But be aware you need to start slowly. Just a few minutes at a comfortable pace and gradually build it up in speed and time. Please speak to your doctor if you think you need more guidance.
8. Promote Good Colon Health
According to the Cancer Institute physically active individuals had a 24% lower risk of colon cancer than those who were the least physically active. Not only does walking help reduce cancer risk it also just helps for better bowel function, keeping you more regular. I know I would prefer a short walk than a clogged up bowel.
9. Improve your Mood
I can tell you from experience that a walk outside really can turn my frown upside down. If I am grumpy, hormonal,wired, sad or stressed a walk always helps me. In fact, I think the only time when a walk doesn’t seem to help is when I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. In which case a good sleep is the best option. There is much research to show that walking decreases depression. And the general consensus of all that research is that movement and exercise are good to prevent and decrease depression.
10. Fight off Glaucoma
Can you believe it? Walking can reduce your chance of pressure building up in your eye! Crazy! But according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation “Studies have shown that moderate exercise such as walking or jogging three or more times every week can have an [eye pressure] lowering effect.” Just another weird and wonderful benefit to walking!
11. Control your weight
Maybe not such a weird reason to walk, but certainly a compelling one for many people. The good news is that you don’t even have to go for a marathon run to reduce and stabilize your weight. Research shows that brisk walking can create a clinically significant reduction in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass for obese men and women aged under 50 years.
12. Strengthen your Bones
Again, maybe no surprise to some of you. But walking can have a positive impact on your bones and joints. So to prevent osteoporosis by getting out and walking, load up those bones to keep them strong.
13. Lower your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Brisk walking can help prevent and manage type II diabetes. I have had several clients in my chiropractic practice that have reduced their requirements for insulin or prevent the need for insulin by the simple act of walking!
14. Improve Lung Health
Again, maybe not so shocking that walking helps lung health, but the actual true impact that walking has on the health of your lungs is amazing. According to the Arthritis Foundation. “Walking improves your breath. When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through [the] bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.”
15. Increase Vitamin D Production
In our skin, our body can create Vitamin D with UVB sunlight. We can store some of the Vitamin D we make over the summer months (assuming your skin is actually exposed to the sun over the summer months.) But levels do drop over winter and we may need supplementation. So whilst to the sun is out, go for a walk with your skin exposed to the UVB light to increase your Vitamin D production!
16. Improve Creativity
Back in the day when I was running a busy chiropractic team, we used to hold creative meetings whilst walking the street and parks of Surrey Hills. We knew that ideas came when we were moving, rather than when we were stagnant sitting at a table. Researchers from Stanford University found that walking increases creative activity in the brain. So, are you working on a creative endeavor? Need to come up with some creative way to manage life on the go? Try a walk to get fresh ideas and a new perspective.
17. Slow the aging process
Want your skin to look younger for longer? Researches at McMaster University in Ontario show that walking helps keep skin tighter. I’ll take that benefit!
So, have I convinced you yet about the benefits of walking? And these are just some of the scientifically researched benefits of walking. There are still more. Enough for several more newsletters!
Now I think it is time you got outside and move that body so you can help prevent cancer, reduce heart disease, have better skin, look younger, improve lung health, and more.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Anthea Holder
(Chiropractor and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)