Stand, Move and Walk for Your Health
There was a time when headlines scared people out of their simple pleasures. One example of these is the headline "Too much TV may lead to shorter life.” It came out after an Australian study linking watching television to increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) was published. Recent studies though show that it is not the television watching that could have caused cardiovascular disease but the inactivity of just sitting on their butt for hours, add to that would be eating while watching.
It felt like a warning to all those who love watching TV to get off their butts because anytime you watch TV you cut your life shorter. The message though was not too much on time spent watching although studies have also shown psychological effects on children of too much television. Rather the point was more on long hours of inactivity being the culprit in cardiovascular disease. The following studies have shown that it would be best to trade in time you spend sitting for something else.
The cost of inactivity
- Four new studies have shown that time spent in sedentary behaviors or inactivity may increase the risks of overweight and obesity, regardless of the time spent in physically active behaviors.
- The study made by Australian researchers led by Dr. David Dunstan, Ph.D. on 8800 adults found that those who watched television four or more hours a day had 46% higher risk of death from all causes and were almost 80% likely to die of CVD-related death than those who watched fewer than two hours a day. They concluded that: Television viewing time was associated with increased risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. In addition to the promotion of exercise, chronic disease prevention strategies could focus on reducing sitting time, particularly prolonged television viewing (Circulation, Jan. 26, 2010).
- A study on 17,013 Canadians 18-90 yr of age examined the relation between sitting time and mortality. It showed that those who sat for most of the day were 54% more likely to have died during the 12-year study than those who sat less than half the time. They also concluded that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity should be encouraged while sitting for extended periods should be discouraged (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May 2009).
Exercise at Work
Sedentary lifestyle is defined as a lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity which includes sitting, reading, watching television and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise. Inactivity and lack of exercise combined as a sedentary lifestyle which extends to prolonged sitting. American’s physical inactivity is said to be “the biggest public health problem of the 21st century."
Researchers and doctors have long been promoting the health benefits of physical activity. The studies above have shown that physical activity is way better than sitting. And physical activity does not necessarily mean hours of exercise.
In the corporate world, while CEO’s and executives may have the time to chuck their business clothes in order to go to the gym, their secretaries might not have the same benefits. They have to stay and prepare correspondence, reports, and materials for their boss’ presentation. Still, physical activity can be had if they really want to. Taking a break from prolonged sedentary time can lessen the effect of extended sedentary time. Standing up and moving around after extended periods of sitting at work, getting up from the couch during commercial breaks, and even just standing up after hours of being hunched over your computer can help. Further studies have shown that even just a small amount of time invested in extra physical activity can reap you benefits.
Physical activity can be anything from walking to gardening, standing while you read, watching television, or even work. For the secretaries mentioned above, standing up and stretching every few minutes could help a lot. Let your feet and legs rest for a few minutes, remove your blazer and unbutton a few buttons of uniform shirts, and move those legs and stretch. Now these things can be done when your boss is not there. If they are, then simply take a few minutes to stop your work and do a little walking or simply stand up. These activities, especially if you sit the whole day, will definitely help your heart, arteries, muscles, and bones.
Walking is man's best medicine. - Hippocrates
Hippocrates is right in saying that about walking. Numerous researches have proven that walking has a lot of health benefits. Walking is probably one of the easiest and certainly the cheapest way to stay fit. It is good for your heart as a recent Harvard study has shown that walking a moderate pace 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of heart disease in women as much as 40%. Aside from making your heart stronger it can also prevents type 2 diabetes, decrease risk of breast and colon cancer, decrease high blood pressure, combat depression, good for your bones, improve fitness and physical function and helps control weight and many more.
Brisk walking, or fast paced walking, not only helps maintain a healthy weight but it can also lift your mood and improve your balance and coordination. It can also help trim your waistline. The faster, the more frequent and the farther you walk, the greater the benefits that you will reap.
Walking for Beginners
- Check with your doctor before you start with a walking program. But medically supervised walking should help rather than bother so there usually is no problem with a walking regimen.
- Invest in good shoes. The shoes are most likely the only expense and equipment you will need and it is the most important part of your gear. It is a must that you get the most fit and quality shoes that you can. The shoe that fits you best and is able to properly support you is the best shoes. Wear correct pair of sock, cotton is not a good choice. Get a pair that has moisture-wicking property. Three essential elements in a shoe: flexible, flat and the heel is not flared.
- Always warm-up or stretch before and after your walk.
- Always have the necessities like water, cap or something to cover your head and proper walking clothes.
- Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing. Know when to stop.
- Keep your walking regimen more interesting and fun. Go walking with friends or find other venues to walk.
- Walk the right way in order that you can get the best results – better health and fitness. Know the correct way of walking to avoid wasted effort or injury. Do not overstride or lengthen your stride too much. Do not flap or slap feet, it is best that you roll through the step with your forward foot from heel to toe. Proper walking posture should always be practiced.
- Wear the proper clothes for walking.
Proper Clothing for Walking (What to wear and what to avoid)
- Proper shoes. As I have said earlier, it is best that you invest in a good pair of shoes. A suggestion would be to have an extra pair in your office so that you will be ready to go anytime. Flip-flops and mountaineering boots are not good choices for fitness walking.
- Proper shirts. Cotton easily absorbs moisture and does not wick it away from your body, it will dry slowly and keep the wet material against the skin. There are proper active wear shirts that have moisture management and Rapid Dry moisture wicking technology which can wick away moisture from your body. These shirts can be found in some online stores that sells active wear and workout clothes. Light colored clothes are a better choice for walking as it reflects sunlight.
- Dress in layers, with the first layer designed to keep sweat away from your skin, the second layer for insulation, and the third layer designed to protect you from elements like wind, rain and snow.
- Proper socks. Since your feet is crucial to the whole walking program, protecting it is very important. Make sure they are given proper care by using socks made from fabric that wicks away moisture. Cotton holds the moisture next to the skin which can help blisters form more quickly. Buy anatomically designed socks that stay in place at toe and hell will also help.
- Never wear denim pants for walking. Whether in hot or cold weather, denim pants would become soggy when it gets from sweat or rain, Breathable pants with sweat-wicking fabric is best.
- Keep your head and shoulders covered with a cap, sun visor or breathable hat. On a hot weather make sure you also protect your skin and apply sunscreen.
- To avoid accidents, wear light-colored clothes especially when walking after dark. Wearing all-black or camo for walking is not a good choice. If you want there are reflective clothing often worn by cyclists to make them highly visible to approaching cars when out after dark.
Active Wear – Active work deserves proper clothing. There are online stores that cater to customers who need proper athletic and active wear.
Walking Pants – Know what the proper pants are for walking.
Reflective Clothing – Safety wear is not limited to work. Anyone walking, jogging or cycling dawn, dusk or nighttime needs hi-visibility shirts or vests or any light-colored with reflective stripes or tapes.
The Surgeon General has recommended daily allowance of 30 minutes or more of accumulated exercise on a daily basis to improve health and fitness. Accumulated means you can do it in shorter bouts throughout the day. One way of doing that is incorporating walking in your daily activities in order to accrue 30 minutes of walking. Look for opportunities to walk, and here are some suggestions:
- Park your car further from the store or from your office and walk the rest of the way.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Go to the deli to eat rather than have it delivered.
- Eat outside the office even if you have brought lunch with you, you get to walk and smell the daisies.
- Walk those short errands rather than driving short distances.
- Keep your walking shoes handy so you can do quick stress-reducing stretch and walk.
- Walk to the park with your children and play with them.
- Take stretch breaks.
Getting More Information about Walking
Walking should not be limited in the malls or in your suburb. There are so many websites that offer programs for physical activities, one just has to research and see if this is what they really want. If walking is part of your daily routine or done with friends, it becomes more enjoyable. Exercise need not be a burden. Here are some sites where you can learn more about physical activity and walking:
- Walking Connection - Walking, Hiking, Adventure Travel
Information on fitness walking, healthy lifestyles, hike training, tips, and guided adventure travel.
- Walking.org | Walking for Fitness, Fitness Walking, Walking Holidays, Walking Equipment, Walking Boo
- Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:: Creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines:: Build
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people. We serve a
- American Hiking Society
- Physical Activity: Introduction | DNPAO | CDC
Group Walking Holidays and Tours
One of the most enjoyable ways to combine love for walking & traveling on your vacation is to go on cultural walking tours or small group walking holidays to different countries and places. There are now different traveling agencies offering small group walking holidays that you can choose from. It can be introductory hiking to a nice hills, to moderate walking through national parks, or even high altitude trekking up Kilimanjaro. You get to walk with those who like the same place you do with similar walking abilities. Cultural walking tours on the other hand blend easy walks with exposure to culture and history with a full-time local guide. Definitely, a fun way to continue your love for walking even when on vacation.