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.
Office work is injurious to your health.
If you spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk, your health will suffer, your fitness will suffer, and you may be heading to an early grave. In fact over a 20 year period you are 60% more likely to die than someone who leads an active life, (defined as a couple of hours physical activity a day). A sedentary lifestyle can kill you.
A deskbound, sedentary lifestyle means that you will be far more likely to suffer from all kinds of nasty illnesses, including; heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, insomnia, poor circulation, back pain, neck pain, brittle bones, arthritis, gout, obesity, stomach problems…
However, there are some fairly easy changes you can make to your deskbound lifestyle to make up for the fact that for eight hours a day you’re mostly a potato. All you really need is a little bit of self-discipline, and you could transform your life by following some, (or all), of these simple suggestions.
- Use the stairs instead of the lift, (elevator). It’s far better for your health, elevators are full of germs, and I got trapped in a full elevator, which isn’t fun.
- Stand up at your desk. Don’t worry what others in the office think, stand up whenever you’re not actually typing on your screen. Anyway, I always used to stand while making phone calls ~ it adds empowerment to your voice. Stand on one leg, shift your weight, lift yourself on your toes and rock back on your heels.
- Take a five-minute break every hour just to walk around the office, make a coffee, go to the bathroom.
- Clean your desk and tidy your environment. The chances are that your desk has more germs on it than a toilet seat. A messy desk and your immediate environs makes you feel stressed ~ and you will be judged on your workspace. Remember, a tidy desk is a happy desk, and a happy desk is an efficient desk.
- Avoid stress by being organised ~ you probably need to learn some effective time management skills, and I’ll write another post on just that topic.
- Don’t eat or drink to relieve stress. Don’t snack on sweet stuffs, you may get bowel cancer. You aren’t actually hungry, you’re just stuffing your face because it makes you feel a little better for a little while. Emotional eating will just make you fat and unhealthy.
- Take a packed lunch to work ~ at least you’ll know what’s in it. Eating out every day, or buying your lunch from a fast food cart or take-out place is very bad for your health. You will get fat, you may get type 2 diabetes, you may get bowel cancer.
- Stay hydrated ~drink water, about a dozen cups, 3 litres, 6 pints or so, every day. Anything with caffeine in it is a diuretic and makes you lose water. Drinking a lot of water gives you a reminder to get up from your desk and walk to the bathroom.
- Get outside at lunchtime and during breaks ~ for a start your body needs the vitamin D you get from sunshine.
- Walk, don’t drive. Walking is one of the best exercises you can get, walking meditation is good, and driving is stressful. For Gods’ sakes, don’t take up power walking, it will make you look stupid.
- Move around whenever you can, and however you find it possible. Exercise at your desk. Stretch at your desk. Stand up at your desk and stretch. Go outside and stretch
- Practice breathing exercises and brief meditation.
- Don’t go to the pub / bar with colleagues after work. Drinking after work is dangerous and it marks you out as a drunkard / wastrel / slut / player.
- Go home and eat a healthy dinner. Your evening meal is very important for a healthy life.
- Don’t sit in front of the television in the evenings. Watching television is very bad for your mental and physical health, it also turns you into a boring vegetable. Under no circumstances sit in front of the television eating, drinking, and smoking ~ that will kill you.
- Ditch social media, (or most of it anyway). Facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc are all very bad for your health. They also turn your brain into mouldy old dough. Only narcissists use twitter, and only egotists use Facebook anyway.
- Get plenty of quality sleep. You may need between 7 to 9 hours good quality sleep a night. You can make up for sleep afterwards, but you cannot store sleep in advance. Get a routine, go to bed at the same time every night and get up and moving at the same time every morning.
- Have an outdoors active hobby / recreation at the weekends. Go for long walks, play golf, enjoy gardening, the list of outdoors things you can do at weekends is long, varied, and interesting.
Seems like a lot of fuss and effort, doesn’t it? OK, don’t bother to do any of this. Don’t make any changes to your sedentary life. Be a boring person, get sick, feel terrible, die before you should. With one exception I don’t give a damn if you follow any of this advice or not. It’s your life, such as it is, you are free to be a desk potato, if that’s what you really want.
But remember, if you just sit at your desk for eight hours a day, then you have to do a solid hour’s exercise in the evenings just to undo all the harm you’ve done to your body, mind, and spirit during the working day.
Get more exercise and have a nice life.
I wanted to be healthier, fitter, and look better, (or at least look as well as I could). Turns out I developed a sustainable plan for eating, exercise, and good health.
It all started on June 9th, when I came to the conclusion that I really, really, needed to give up coffee for a month Too much coffee was turning me into a mad dog. I’ve only had coffee on 2 days since then, and for me, coffee is now a drink only for after a special meal, with a special friend.
As I felt much better not drinking coffee I also resolved to cut all the junk out of my diet. This is easier said than done ~ most of the stuff we eat is full of salt, sugar, additives, colourings, and sundry crap. After a while I decided that I just had to stop eating a lot of processed, packaged, pre-prepared food. For me, there is also the big issue of Abstinence versus Control.
Then I wanted a couple of other things; to get a decent sun tan, and get some exercise. Ha! I could do both by going for long walks on the beach, in the sunshine.
So, 6 weeks ago I came up with this plan.
- Take a long walk every day it wasn’t raining. Walking is good for you. I bought a pedometer, and my long walk turned into 10 miles every day, which takes me about three-and-a-half hours. I also found I could do some upper-body isometric exercise while I was walking in the sunshine. Sun tan and exercise!
- No alcohol whatsoever. I am not supposed to drink anyway, and if you want to look as good as you can, then you need to give up booze, (and I mean completely), for 6 weeks. In fact you should stop drinking beer for the rest of your life.
- No wheat whatsoever. This includes wheat products like bread, cakes, noodles, pasta, and beer… Modern wheat is full of nasty stuff, piles on fat around your stomach, and will eventually harm your insides. Everybody should probably stop eating wheat.
- Take as little sugar as possible. This means cutting out all those canned, packaged, processed foods. Stop drinking soda completely. Quitting coffee and switching to green tea helps too. Not eating wheat products also cuts out a lot of sugar. Too much refined sugar will kill you anyway.
- Eat only healthy meals prepared at home. Unless you’ve bought the produce and cooked / prepared the meal yourself, you have no idea what you are eating. In any event, eating out is too likely to lead one down the road of overeating and booze. There are hundreds of quick and easy menus ~ hell just read my Food on Friday blog if you run out of ideas.
- No snacks, no grazing, no eating between meals, over large meals, cookies with coffee… And, do not have more than 3 meals in a day. In fact, do no have more than a light breakfast, light lunch, and reasonable evening meal in each day.
This eating plan is going to be a big problem for some people, it certainly was for me. I am one of those people who can give up stuff easily, but I can’t control how much stuff I want once I’ve started. Like most of us, once I start eating I want to eat more.
My solution was daily intermittent fasting, eating only 1 meal a day, my evening meal.
You will be surprised to know that I found this programme very easy to follow.
And when I checked my wight yesterday I found I had hit my target of 150 pounds, which means I have shed 3 pounds of flab, every week for 6 weeks. Add it up.