Physical activity doesn't need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life."
~ Mayo Clinic
Walking has been my main "go-to" exercise for as long as I can remember. Being a Type A personality, I think it began when a doctor told me to "exercise to relax" - something to invoke the relaxation response rather than the "fight or flight" response in the body. I have found that exercising in the morning is one of the best things we can do to start the day and it also leads to making healthier decisions all day long.
In addition, exercise is a major detoxifier. With exercise we clean all of our internal organs at the same time, accelerating the detoxification process. As we exercise, the blood circulates throughout the body, bringing nutrients to all the organs and muscles. Exercise also helps lymph fluids circulate the body, which removes toxins and other harmful materials. When exercising we breathe deeply and take in more oxygen, which helps all the cells to perform their jobs, including removing toxins. At the same time we exhale carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of the various functions performed by the body. As we do aerobic exercise we build up a sweat and toxins are released through the pores of the skin. Exercising also helps us to lose weight by reducing the amount of fatty tissues in the body. As the fatty tissues grow smaller the toxins stored in fat are released into the body to be removed. WOW!
The good news is that exercise doesn't have to be difficult. A simple brisk walk each day can greatly improve your health. It's in our body's makeup to walk - we are built to do it! Walking is one of the easiest ways to get the exercise we need to stay healthy. And it not only helps you feel good, it will help you look good as well.
"Multiple studies have proven that walking is the best thing we can do to improve our overall health and increase our longevity and functional years."
~ Robert Sallis, M.D.
Walking done often and properly can deliver an array of benefits. MSN Health & Fitness lists 50 Amazing Benefits of Walking. Just some of it's many advantages are:
- Improves circulation
- Strengthens and supports bones, muscles, and joints
- Improves balance & coordination
- Revs your metabolism
- Improves breathing
- Increases energy
- Reduces excess weight & body fat
- Improves sleep
- Improves bathroom habits
- Lowers stress and improves mood
- Improves chronic pain
- Live longer, do more, look younger
- Improves memory & cognitive function
- Boosts immune function
- Reduces sugar cravings
Exercise has been called a "miracle drug" for it's ability to help prevent or manage various health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more. There doesn't seem to be a single health condition that walking can't help in some way. And, unlike real drugs, walking has no side effects, is easily accessible, affordable, and effective.
The American College of Cardiology recommends starting with a reason to walk since we are more likely to do it if we have a reason. Then set a daily or weekly goal. The minimum prescription for good health is 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking 5 days a week. More is better, but you can get a significant portion of the health benefits even with just that moderate amount.
"Walking is one of the best free things that you can do for your health, and the health of the planet."
A great way to get and stay motivated is by joining a walking group or club. It's also a great way to connect with other like-minded and wonderful people.
A couple of years ago, I started hiking with Center for Sacred Movement's Go Wild hiking group (hikes range from easy to strenuous) and more recently with their Women's Wellness Walk series (easy to moderate) as well. Tony and Kristi have been leading hikes throughout Sonoma County (and sometimes Marin!) for over 6 years. CLICK HERE to visit their website for more information.
Another great resource for group hikes locally is Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood. They regularly have single-day hikes and several times a year offer a Hiking for Fitness series that I participated in last year and enjoyed very much.
And, if you don't want to join a group, AllTrails.com is a great website (and app) for detailed trail maps, photos and reviews of over 50,000 trails ...no matter where you're located.
All of these have given me the incentive to stay with and even increase the distance of my (almost) daily walks in the morning when I might have otherwise strayed. Plus I have LOVED getting to experience the MANY beautiful places in nature that abound.
Whichever way you choose, I invite you to get out and get moving for your health, well-being and longevity.
Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program with coaching, compassion, and humor.