Walk, don’t run!

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RUNNING, as a form of exercise, has been popular since the 1970s. One author wrote: “The great advantage of this form of exercise is its intensity. It promotes fitness quickly and efficiently, and burns more calories than other activities, making it attractive to people who want to control their weight.

Because of its intensity, running releases endorphins in many people, creating the runner’s high that some describe as an “energy buzz”. The runner’s high—like aerobic exercise highs in general—is a good antidepressant.

But running is not for everyone. “Running has some potentially serious disadvantages that you should consider before choosing to do it on a regular basis,” Dr. Andrew Weil wrote in his web site, drweil.com.

“Regardless of exercise type, doing too much too soon can result in injuries,” one author noted. “However, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures and runner’s knee are a few specific ailments often reported by runners. Training for long distances, ignoring rest days and running through pain contributes to these injuries.”

So, instead of running, why don’t you walk?  I did this when I tried to explore New York’s Manhattan.  When you visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, there is no way but to walk to see all those mesmerizing temples scattered all over the place.

Perhaps, not too many know that former American President Harry S. Truman took walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88. Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his 2-mile daily power walk. Famous author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau admitted he couldn’t have preserved his health and spirit without walking at least for four hours through the woods or fields every day. 

“Regular physical activity is probably as close to a magic bullet as we will come in modern medicine,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US. “If everyone were to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, we could cut the incidence of many chronic diseases by 30 to 40 percent.” 

Even if you’re 50 and have never taken part in a physical activity, a brisk half-hour walk three times a week can “basically reverse your physiological age by about ten years”, said Dr. Gareth Jones, a Canadian geriatric specialist.

Jones’s source: A three-year study of 220 retirement-age men in which half didn’t exercise and the other half walked briskly for 30 minutes three times a week. After a year, the exercise group showed a 12-percent increase in aerobic power and a 10-percent increase in strength and hip flexibility—equivalent to what they would have lost over a decade had they not exercised at all.

People in France and the Mediterranean tend to be slim because they’re a lot more active. And it’s all because they walk more. A study of 200,000 Americans at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, found that city dwellers were almost 3-kilograms lighter than their suburban counterparts, largely because, instead of driving, they walked more. “You’re not working out,” said Dr. Will Clower, author of The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss. “You’re just moving.”

In tescoliving.com, Hannah Ebelthite cited 10 health benefits of walking. Allow me to share the top 3 benefits:

1 It strengthens your heart. Regular walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol and keeps blood pressure in check. 

“Anything that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping is a workout for your heart and circulatory system,” personal trainer Stuart Amory said. According to the Stroke Association, walking briskly for up to 30 minutes can help prevent and control the high blood pressure that can cause strokes—reducing your risk by up to 27 percent.

It lowers disease risk. As well as heart disease, a walking habit can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. A study in the British Medical Journal showed taking more steps every day can help ward off diabetes. And according to Walking for Health, regular exercise, such as walking, could reduce risk by up to 60 percent. Those who are active have around a 20 percent lower risk of developing cancer of the colon, breast and womb than those least active.

It keeps weight in check. “If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn about 600 calories a day more than you’re eating,” Amory said. “Putting one foot in front of the other is one of the easiest ways to do that.”

A person weighing 60 kg burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2 miles per hour (mph) for 30 minutes. Increase that to 3 mph and they’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4 mph) and that’s 150 calories.

“Walking also increases muscle mass and tone, and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism—so the more calories you burn, even at rest,” Amory added.

Now, you know why it is better to walk than to run.

Image Credits: pixabay.com