Walking For Health and Fitness
Until you have felt the rhythm of a good walk in your own muscles, and the psycho-physical tonic of a brisk walkout in your own mind and body, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Because of the structure, shape and flexibility of the spine, the human body is better suited for walking than any other aerobic activity. Your body is built for action and movement, and as a way of getting from one place to another, it reaches its highest state of physical perfection in the act of walking. The following are just some of the benefits which walking can give you.
Walking Strengthens the Heart and Lungs
Provided you don’t stroll, but pace briskly, walking expands your lung capacity, and the efficiency of your exercising muscles and blood circulation is increased so that muscles and blood can process more oxygen – the aerobic effect. The beneficial effects are borne out by several studies which found that the least active people are twice as likely to have heart disease as the most active. More than 40 scientific studies worldwide have shown that moderate physical activity like fitness walking develops cardiovascular health and protects against heart disease. The Paffenburger study in the USA found that walking two miles a day can lower your chance of a heart attack by up to 30 per cent.
Walking Reduces Blood Pressure
Scientists have known for years that both exercise and weight loss, independent of each other, can lower blood pressure. Fitness walking, because it gives the heart an aerobic workout, helps to make the heart more efficient and at the same time helps the body burn calories which reduces body weight.
Walking Raises Level of ‘Good’ Cholesterol
Walking won’t cut high cholesterol – the only way you can do that is to eat less fat which you can do by following The Walker’s Diet. But fitness walking can alter the ratio of ‘good cholesterol’ (the so-called HDLs which protect the arteries) to ‘bad’cholesterol’ (the LDLs which clog up the arteries). The more you walk, the more your HDLs will rise.
Walking Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Walking is a perfect body massage. It improves muscle tone and strength and wards off aching joints and potential bone problems such as osteoporosis – the brittle bone condition prevalent in the elderly. As weight-bearing activity, walking boosts bone density. As bones gain mass, they grow sturdier and less prone to breaks.
Walking Can Reduce Back Pain
More than 90 per cent of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back and joints become less flexible, often caused by an inactive lifestyle and bad posture. Fitness walking helps by working the large muscle groups and strenghtening the postural muscles of the legs, buttocks, back and abdomen. “Taking a walk regularly is one of the best things you can do for your back,” says Dr John Regan of The Texas Back Institute.