Magazine article New Zealand Management

Executive Health: One Small Step for Mankind

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Executive Health: One Small Step for Mankind

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Tynan

It's one of those pieces of news that causes you to pause and reflect a moment on what the world has come to. In 2011, one of the US' largest non-profit healthcare organisations, Kaiser Permanente, launched an online educational campaign to encourage one of humankind's most basic activities -- walking.

Walking, it seems, is something of a lost art. The average American adult walks just 3000 to 5000 steps a day. Kaiser Permanente is urging people to boost that number to at least 10,000, the number recommended by the World Health Organisation to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

But before you dismiss the idea of a walking campaign as an "only in America" situation, consider New Zealand's own, rather sobering, statistics on activity.

Research by the Ministry of Health has found that physical inactivity is responsible for eight percent of deaths in New Zealand -- over 2600 per year.

Only 52 percent of New Zealanders meet the Government's minimum recommended level of physical activity for health. By any standard, the minimum is not onerous -- at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day at least five days per week. This intensity can be achieved by simply walking at a pace where there is a slight, but noticeable, increase in breath and heart rate, but you can still carry on a conversation.

The health benefits of walking are numerous. Studies report reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes and stroke, stronger bones, improved circulatory system, better resistance to colds, and boosted "good" cholesterol levels.

Walking has also been cited as effective in the prevention and treatment of depression. Research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking 30 minutes a day boosted mood in depressed patients faster than antidepressants. …

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