When it comes to walking, it’s all good.
In case you hadn’t heard, there is a health and fitness trend that says walking 10,000 paces a day is good for your body, mind, and soul. For me, ten-thousand paces equates to about 5 miles on level ground, and will usually take me the best part of two hours to accomplish. Which begs the question; is it really worth my while to devote two hours a day, every day, just walking to somewhere, or even to nowhere and back again?
Well, actually, yes it is, and these are the reasons why.
Let’s start with something scientific and anatomical ~ blood flow in the legs. The circulation in our feet and legs only works because we use our calf muscles, and because of non-return valves in the veins. If we sit still, we have bugger-all blood flow in our feet and legs ~ which is why there’s a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis during long flights. If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, you are in danger of developing poor circulation, which is nasty.
So if you want to have healthy circulation, one of the things you can do is just get out of your chair, and walk.
My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is. ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Walking more, whether it’s to go somewhere, or for leisure, or part of your health and fitness programme is an easy way to be more active without all that unpleasant sweating, huffing, and puffing that comes with some other forms of exercise. A brisk walk is classed as moderate-intensity activity, and does count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise. Walking is a form of exercise that’s easy to fit into your daily routine, for example instead of taking the elevator up a couple of floors, take the stairs.
If you’re not used to taking much exercise, then don’t start off by trying to walk 5 miles. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you add 1,000 steps a week to your baseline average. This means you are going to need a pedometer, and the first thing you should do is measure how many steps you take in an average day. Very Well says that if you are an average American you will most likely be walking 5,000 steps in an entire day, (HA! I don’t believe a word of that, I’m certain the average Californian walks about 2,500 steps a day.)
The respected Mayo Clinic is very keen on walking as a form of exercise and even has a 12-week walking schedule based on work done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The benefits of walking include improving your blood pressure, energy, happiness, mental health, skin tone, sleep, stamina, strength, stress levels ~ as well as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, joint problems, obesity, a stroke, and nasty diseases in general. On top of that you are going to look and feel a hell of a lot better. The key to walking for health and fitness is to build walking into your daily schedule.
These days I am keen on meditation and mindfulness, but I find it difficult to meditate in the traditional fashion. So, I meditate during yoga, and I also practice a form of walking meditation. I have never been taught, nor led through yoga meditation or walking meditation, these are mindfulness practices which just came naturally to me.
All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
All of us should also do some strength exercises, at least twice a week, particularly as we get older. Personally I like to do some yoga, but I also add an isometric workout into my daily walk. This two-for the price of one routine means that I make the most use of the couple of hours I spend in the fresh air and sunshine, (we sometimes get sunshine in England).
You don’t have to believe me that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good idea. Just google 10,000 steps and you will come across loads of articles by people such as the well-respected Dr Mercola who say that walking 10,000 steps a day is a basic requirement for good health and fitness.
In life a couple of things now scare me; having a stroke and developing dementia. If I can improve my chances of avoiding these life-destroying conditions, then a couple of hours walking every day seems a small price to pay.