Posted by: Integra Massage | May 10, 2011

The Health Benefits of Walking

People often seek my advice as to the best form of exercise for general health.  Knowing that I practice Tai Chi and work out with kettlebells, they assume I will suggest something along these lines.  But no, the advice I give most often is to get out in the open air and walk.

Walking in easy (we’ve been doing almost all our life, costs nothing is enjoyable to say the least and is remarkably good for you.

Good for your heart: Studies have shown that regular moderate walking cuts the risk of dying from heart disease and lowers blood pressure.

Good for your metabolism: Again research has shown that walking 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of diabetes regardless of your weight.

Good for your immune system.  Walking has been shown to reduce the risk of bowel cancer and improve breast cancer survival rates.

Good for longevity: Active people in their 50s and 60s are 35 percent less likely to die than sedentary people.

Good for your sex life:  Another study showed that a brisk 2 mile walk daily can reudce the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Good for your muscles bones and joints.  One study showed that 3 hours of brisk walking a day reduced the pain, debility and distress of back pain. Other studies have emphasised the benefits of gentle exercise for arthritis.

This list goes on and on…….

And walking is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable pastimes. You can walk alone and be lost in your thoughts, walk with friends and family, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

There is a little wooded valley 10 minutes drive from where I live. I go there at least twice a week, my wife goes more often.  We have had the joy of the secession of spring flowers, bird song, the occasional sight of a Kingfisher, trout darting in the stream, the chance of a deer or otter.  We can walk an hour, may be two on winding paths that rise and fall, exercising our muscles, our lungs and heart, the movement encouraging blood circulation and massaging our body.  We return enlivened, at peace and with keen appetite.  Nothing would persuade me to give that up in favour of a gym or health club.

I have a client with chronic joint and back problems who took to walking for exercise and pleasure a few years ago.  She joined local walking groups and now does 25 mile challenges, moonlite all nighters, expeditions to the Scottish Highlands and is soon off to Kilimanjaro.

For another client a slowround of the local park has got her out of the house which had become a prison due to  arthritis.

And 25 years ago I overcame 6 months of debilitating chronic post viral fatigue, through a walking tour of my favourite hills in Wales.

I have a homeopath to thank for that.  Instead of giving me a remedy he simply said:  “you must walk”  How right he was.


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