We don’t need a high-octane study at some renowned institute or some expert to tell us that walking briskly is good for one’s general health. It should be quite easy and only too logical to understand the long-term benefits of brisk walking. Right from our childhood, we are advised by our elders to take regular exercise in the morning as well as yoga. It is so because human body is akin to a complex machine that requires constant maintenance and servicing to remain in good working condition. This is where walking comes into play making an innocuous entry in our daily schedule. Almost all those connected with medical profession converge upon the idea that walking is the safest, cheapest and highly effective exercise one can get. Any person of whatever age or sex can derive equal health benefits.
What should now occupy our mind are the details around walking such as the duration of walk, speed and the weekly frequency that would serve the purpose of attaining good health. I advise everyone to build your own personal goals on long term health that you wish to achieve. Should one walk for 10 minutes or 30, at say 5 km/h or 8, 4 times a week or all seven days a week is a matter of discussion in what follows.
During the below discussion I would also clear a few misconceptions about walking. At this stage, you should know that there are two distinct areas in which the benefits could be classified. First being the cardiovascular and the other is weight-loss or reducing obesity. Cardiovascular refers to the functioning of the heart and the blood flow. Improper cardiovascular functioning is associated with ailments like heart attack, coronary heart disease, hypertension and anxiety. Walking could also help fighting obesity and can be directed towards reducing body weight. Walking can help in both these areas very effectively.
WHO recommends a moderate exercise of about 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes a week. One could also squeeze in ‘a run’ or a ‘cycling binge’ alongside brisk walking. Walking increases heart rate to about double its normal rate, at 150 beats per minute. Physical exercise that maintains heart beat at this rate for at least 20 minutes, helps manage insulin levels in the blood and maintain healthy metabolism rate leading to reduced chances of contracting diabetes. The first 20 minutes of walk is just enough to help the cardiovascular health while the remainder part helps in burning extra calories leading to weight loss, fight obesity and weight management. All of this helps avert any chances of dying early. A credible research in the west says that the risk of early death for individuals above the age of 40 who do not take moderate exercise increases by as much as 30% over an individual who does. If one has led a sedentary life for whatever reasons, the damage to the body already done over the years may be reversed by sustaining a slightly longer duration of daily exercise typically upwards of 60 minutes. For individuals who have sedentary work conditions as well watch television for 4 to 5 hours daily, the risk becomes manifold higher.
To ward off chances of early death or contracting heart disease, I strongly urge you to form a habit of walking daily. Nothing could be better than doing it all seven days of the week. Taking a day off from walk, though desirable, is like saying ‘I do not care about my health today’. Depending on your convenience, you could schedule your walk in the morning or the evening though morning time is preferable. You could also snatch 30 minutes before lunch time if morning or evening times prove inconvenient on a particular day or if rain or weather plays a spoil sport. You could also continue with your daily walk, along with regular gym schedules. Children should be encouraged to do physical activity by way of outdoor games instead of staring at the screens of their gadgets all day. Allocate a few days when you would take public transport and shun the luxury of your personal vehicle. Sounds difficult, but a small sacrifice in the interest of your health is definitely the need of the hour if you do not want to hear the sirens of an approaching ambulance.
Great article explaining the importance of walking…