Most Natural Form of Exercise: Go for a Walk

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Most Natural Form of Exercise: Go for a Walk


Byline: YOUR HEALTH By Sarah Grall For The Register-Guard

When they are thinking about embarking on a fitness program, many people believe that aerobic exercise is a torturous activity to be dreaded. The thought of newfangled exercise machines, Lycra tights and gyms full of hard bodies can be daunting, to say the least.

But the good news is that the most natural activity for human beings - walking - is one of the most effective ways to prevent disease and promote health. In fact, it's associated with all aspects of fitness: endurance, strength and flexibility.

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known as the father of medicine, may have said it best: "Walking is man's best medicine."

The build, biology and ancient design of humans show that we were meant to be ambulatory and to walk from Point A to Point B using our legs. Unfortunately, this natural activity doesn't match up with modern living.

Today, we must make an extra effort to include walking as a fundamental part of our fitness. As one of my grad school professors advised, "You should walk your dog every day, even if you don't have one."

The beauty of walking is that it's gentle on the body, and nearly everyone can do it. It can be done anywhere, and doesn't require special equipment. It can be done with friends, and you'll find that socializing while walking makes the time fly by!

Walking is one of the most protective activities you can engage in to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The benefits of walking transfer to all areas of health and wellness, and they include reducing cholesterol as well as managing blood glucose and blood pressure.

Research suggests that women can reduce their risk of breast and colon cancer by walking. It also aids sleep and digestion. And like all weight-bearing activity, walking helps maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.

Walking also provides psychological benefits. It's an important tool for stress management, and is recommended for people with depression and anxiety disorders since it results in a pleasant, physiologically based euphoria.

In fact, walking dispels that exercise adage, "No pain, no gain." If you don't feel better after walking, something's wrong! …

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