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Walking your way to a healthy life

Photo: wayhomestudio/Freepik
Our health is in our hands. No one, neither family nor friends, is responsible for our mental, physical and emotional well-being. Not counting unforeseen circumstances and medical events, there is nothing to stop us from being in good shape and preventing diseases, many of which are due to the unhealthy lifestyle choices we make. Unfortunately, by the time we decide to do something about our health, it is often too late.

But it’s never late to start taking care of ourselves – and keeping health problems, stress, worry and medical expenses at bay; in fact, the sooner we take charge of our health, the better our lives will be. We, and especially our loved ones, will have one less thing to worry about. That in itself can be a huge motivation to tick all the right boxes in the ‘health is wealth’ criteria.

To be health conscious is to have a positive attitude and being mindful of how we live our lives. It means prioritising self-care and strengthening our mind and body in ways that will have a profound impact on our lives and those around us. It also entails being aware that life, as well as retired life, is meant to be lived as best as we can without the shadow of ill-health looming over us.

As I grow older it’s important for me that I take care of myself more than I already do. I’m motivated by two things — one, a desire to be healthy when I step into retirement, so that my wife and I can enjoy the autumn of our lives; and two, avoid becoming a health burden to my family. I owe it to them and to myself.

“Walk 45 minutes every day,” the doctor said. “And eat right. Avoid fried and high-fat foods.” So, one of the many things I do now to maintain my health, with greater resolve than before, is walk. I have always enjoyed walking whether it is running errands, climbing stairs, walking our dog, strolling in the supermarket or walking laps on a track. I prefer walking because it requires very little motivation than, say, going to the gym or a yoga centre. All I have to do is put on my sneakers, grab the house keys and step outside. Walking also helps me think better, clears my head and elevates my mood.
Photo: Lukas Medvedevas/Pexels
My almost-daily routine consists of doing a few laps around the walking track in my neighbourhood, which translates into some 3,000-odd steps over 25-30 minutes. On workdays, I manage to walk quite a bit in and around my office. It doesn’t matter where I walk so long as every step I take is a bonus point for my health.

Study after study have shown that a daily walk – even a 10-minute walk – is good for cardiovascular health as it lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as high blood pressure, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Walking also helps reduce stress, boosts immune system, enhances brain function, burns calories, eases anxiety and depression, improves sleep, and perhaps even promotes longevity.

Recently, a study by Cambridge University, the largest of its kind, revealed that an 11-minute brisk walk every day – equating to a minimum of 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week – as well as dancing, riding a bike, playing tennis or hiking can substantially cut the risk of several diseases and even prevent premature death.

“If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position,” said Dr Søren Brage of the Medical Research Council (MRC) epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge.

The benefits of walking or any form of exercise, on a regular basis, far outweigh the costs of doing nothing and becoming susceptible to medical conditions that can have long-term consequences.

As Prof. James Woodcock, also of Cambridge University, noted, “We know that physical activity, such as walking or cycling, is good for you, especially if you feel it raises your heart rate. But what we’ve found is there are substantial benefits to heart health and reducing your risk of cancer even if you can only manage 10 minutes every day.”

Walking is an excellent way to keep in great mental and physical shape, and is well worth the effort it takes to step outside.

© Prashant C. Trikannad

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1 Comment

I like walking, too. Fortunately, there are several places near enough to where I live so I can walk there. So, if I need to pick something up, I try to get it from someplace where I can walk. It serves the purpose of the errand and it's good for health.

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