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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tip: Walk; Just Walk!

As you can imagine, I’ve become embroiled in health tips and information related to the food we eat. The other day I read the following information on weight loss:

Along with diet and exercise, healthcare professionals recommend that you:

Reduce saturated and trans fats
Limit refined carbohydrates (Bobbie's note: these are the starches I avoid)
Keep fat intake under 35% of total calories

Three brisk walks a week may be the most health-conscious thing you can do for your body.
In fact, a study presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association reported that women who walked for at least three hours a week had a 40% lower risk of heart attack and stroke than women who didn’t walk. The study, part of an eight-year research project of 84,000 female nurses ages 40–65, also suggested that the brisker the walk, the greater the health benefit.

(end of article)

All that information is great, but my walks aren’t that brisk. I walk with my dog, and my miniature poodle, like most male dogs, spends a great deal of time sniffing things and marking his territory. Our walks, therefore, include many stops and starts and only a few brisk strides here and there when something new draws his attention. Still, we walk, every day, two or three times a day, for ten to twenty minutes, and every time, I have to walk down a long, steep driveway and then climb back up it to get into the house. I figure that driveway adds enough strain at the end to count for a few more brisk steps than I actually took. At least it all adds up to some form of exercise.

Fact is, and I’ve said it before: I don’t like to exercise, and almost nothing motivates me to do so, except obligation. I don’t have a fenced yard, so I’m obligated to walk the dog and scoop up his poop, so I stay on good terms with the neighbors. I also joined a gym and pay a monthly fee, hoping that fee would form an obligation to go, but I still go only on average of once a week or less. Instead, I point to the fact that at least I walk every single day, several times a day.

Here’s another confirming article I found on the Internet:

Walking benefits you

Results from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrate the following benefits:

It’s inexpensive, requiring little equipment other than a pair of sturdy shoes. There are no fees to pay, no courses to drive to, and it’s as easy to do as strolling around the block.

It’s probably the safest form of exercise. Walkers stand little chance of developing shin splints, tennis elbow, or torn muscles, cartilage, or ligaments.

Walking is one of the most efficient, low-impact workouts available. Walking and running burn about the same amount of calories per mile. The benefit to running comes from the fact that you can cover more miles running than walking in the same amount of time.

Walking offers a host of long-term benefits. The study found: women who walked briskly (3–4 miles per hour, or one mile every 15–20 minutes) had a 54% lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Walking lowers blood pressure, improves the cholesterol profile, lowers the risk of osteoporosis and may lower the risk of certain kinds of cancer. There is evidence that walking helps reduce stress, too.

Walking may reduce the discomfort of the most common forms of arthritis, and it can help with weight loss, which can help improve overall long-term health.

(end of article)

I guess I’m doing okay, then, to walk; at least it’s something, and I do know this: walking and losing weight have definitely reduced my arthritis pain, and I love the fact that I feel younger and more vibrant at 66 than I did at 65. I’m definitely going in the right direction, however and whichever way I’m walking!

Oh, and although I claim with all my heart that my weight-loss plain is strictly about health and not about looks, I have a confession. I saw several friends over the weekend that I had not seen in months, and all of them commented on how much weight I had lost and how good I looked. Such comments and compliments make me feel even better about my decision to lose weight. Yes, flattery is not required, but it sure feels good and is the fringe benefit to eating consciously, losing weight, and regaining my health.

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