Walking your way to good health

  • February 20, 2012
  • By Megan Reilly

Hippocrates called walking "man's best medicine", and it certainly can provide an all-round health boost. The general benefits of regular walking -for example: weight loss, relaxation and the positive impact on heart health - have been publicised for years. However, a daily walk can improve your health beyond these simple essentials.

Daily exercise, such as a 30-minute walk, is associated with longevity. Studies show that, up to a point, an increase in exercise intensity correlates with a decrease in mortality rates. However, the relatively low intensity of walking still delivers benefit for your body, so even if you're not able to run like a racehorse six days a week, a good daily walk will increase your likelihood of living a longer, healthier life.

Walking also places load on your muscles and bones, which is especially critical as we get older because it helps maintain strength and can assist in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Recent studies have shown that walking may help to ward off serious illnesses, with statistics pointing to less recurrence in those who participated in a brisk walk on a regular basis.

Importantly, walking has been shown to be great for mental health. Not only is it effective in helping to treat depression, but is also a good way to decrease stress, support a positive outlook and generally feel good. It makes sense that walking can enhance our mood. Although it’s simple to do, it actually combines several aspects of a healthy lifestyle - fresh air, exercise, sunlight, social aspects or, conversely, 'alone time' and a removal from the daily grind of the office, housework and other commitments.

If you're struggling to find time to fit in a walk each day, you may try to incorporate it into your daily routine. For example, walk to work, or an extra twenty minutes to your public transport stop. Walk to the supermarket, or walk with a friend rather than sitting at a cafe.

By making this simple activity a part of every day, you’ll be walking towards a healthier, happier you.

Megan Reilly is a practising Naturopath and Acupuncturist with a strong belief in healthy living for a healthy mind and body. She has a special interest in dietary therapy and sports nutrition, food intolerances and allergies, and mood disorders. Megan’s has extensive experience in a variety of areas of health, including aged care, live blood analysis, intra-venous vitamin therapy and herbal medicine, placing her as a leading practitioner of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Megan currently practices in Melbourne, Victoria.

References:

James Woodcock, Oscar H Franco, Nicola Orsini, Ian Roberts (2011) Non-vigorous physical activity and all-cause mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Int. J. Epidemiol. 40 (1): 121-138. http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/1/121.abstract

Erin L. Richman, Stacey A. Kenfield, Meir J. Stampfer, Alan Paciorek, Peter R. Carroll, June M. Chan (2011) Physical Activity after Diagnosis and Risk of Prostate Cancer Progression: Data from the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor. Cancer Res. 71; 3889 http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/71/11/3889.short

Vicki S Conn (2010) Depressive Symptom Outcomes of Physical Activity Interventions: Meta-analysis Findings. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 39(2); 128-138 http://www.springerlink.com/content/eh0q433188628636/

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