The simplest exercises are often the best for us: Why walking is good for you…
A model of health in my own life
I mention my father a lot in my writings. That’s because for me he is the representation of healthy living. When I look at a lot of the problems that people are facing today – increasing rates of cancer, autoimmune diseases, obesity and general weight gain – well I see the answer to all these problems in his life.
He lives the life of a monk in the mountain – Except he’s not. He really doesn’t care about all that spiritual stuff. He’s not into any of the ‘new age’ or healthy living kinds of ideas that flood about today.
Basically he’s an old school Londoner – the type that grew up during a time of post-war rationing, limited food choices, poverty and hard work from an early age. It fixed his mindset for the rest of his life. He doesn’t have a TV, only listens to the radio or reads books or newspapers. He grows his own vegetables in his allotment. He never eats junk food or sugary snacks and has no desire for them at all. He has very few possessions and doesn’t want for much in life.
This lifestyle is really not so unusual
For a lot of people today, this kind of lifestyle is impossible. These days, the only way people could follow this is by sacrificing and forcing themselves to do it. People can not follow this kind of lifestyle willingly or easily. However, for my father and quite a lot of people from his generation, this kind of lifestyle is actually quite natural for them. I have met other British people in their 70s and 80s who are quite similar and likewise have lived to advanced ages in relatively good condition. It was something about the world they grew up in that made them adopt these frugal and simple living habits for the rest of their lives. I know that I can not easily follow this way of living, because the environment I grew up in different. However, I can learn from them.
My father likes walking. When he’s not doing gardening work, he will sometimes walk several miles to a supermarket or a bookshop. He will purposely choose somewhere further away as his target destination. Of course he could take a bus, train or even drive himself, but he chooses to walk for the exercise. He walks at a very fast pace. When he travels to new countries, he’ll go off on long walks. In his 60s, and throughout his early 70s, he went backpacking to Asia and did trekking. I went with him years ago to Nepal and the Himalayas. He easily out-walked me.
My father is slim. His muscles are toned. He is healthy and fit. Far fitter than me and I’m decades younger than him. And a long life of walking has helped him be this way. His is the kind of lifestyle that has kept him in good physical and mental health for the last 80 years.
So I can find a lot of good examples of health from observing my father and perhaps this is the reason we are bound to each other. I can learn from him.
For the purposes of this article, I will highlight one of his good habits – the habit of walking and talk about some of its benefits briefly. Walking is one of the factors that has helped keep him in good condition right up to his 80 years old and steer clear of any medications (so far). Walking has been good for him and I believe walking is good for you also.
7 reasons why walking is good for you:
1) It represents freedom
Walking is by far is one of the greatest exercises we can do. Early on in life, it is one of the most dynamic actions we learn as babies and signals the first sign of independence. It means we have the potential to go wherever we want in life (it it wasnt for those pesky baby gates).
2) Exercises the Heart
Walking benefits our health in so many ways. Firstly, it’s a mild form of cardiovascular exercise. But it also has the potential to be used more intensely. If we walk quickly at a brisk pace for 20 minutes, we will bring out a sweat and get the blood pumping.
3) Its improves our lymph flow
Walking also benefits the lymphatic system. By walking, the contraction of the muscles in our legs squeezes and releases away at the veins and lymph vessels in our legs improving the circulation and enhancing the immune system.
4) Walking clears the mind.
If we have any kind of stress, anxiety or anger, then a walk for 20 minutes can help burn off any of those stress hormones circulating in out body. It also helps us reflect on the situation. Basically walking moves the Ki-energy. When we are stress, the Ki-energy stagnates. It gets stuck in our head. But when we walk, we move the Ki-energy throughout the body.
5) Walking will make you look more attractive.
If you walk everyday, a mile or two, you will lose weight. If you walk at a fast pace, some of your leg muscles will get toned. Your blood will circulate making your complexion look fresher.
6) Walking can help with acne.
Its true. Acne is a result of an imbalance of stress hormones flooding through the body. Regular walking will help to burn off some of these excess hormones. It worked for me years ago. Throughout my life, I have suffered from adult acne. Some years ago, I followed a 2 mile walking plan every day at quick pace for a few weeks and I also made some dietary changes. My skin became very clear during that time.
7) It’s free.
You don’t need to go to the gym. You can wear whatever you want. Walking can be incorporated into your daily life. For example, if you have a stressful job, you may be able to incorporate some walking as part of your journey home to help unwind.
Historically: Walking as part of life
Our ancestors walked far more than we did. Long before we had automobiles or trains, people would have had to walk more. Even with horses and carts, not everyone would be able to ride one, so walking was the main form of transportation. And I bet it made everyone fitter, slimmer and healthier. One of the problems with modern living is that we tend to use our bodies less, which impacts on our health because our bodies are meant to be used.
Perhaps one of the reasons we have so many autoimmune diseases and high rates of cancer is because of an imbalance of energy. We eat more than our ancestors did and use our bodies less. So we have more waste products in our body. Well one of the best ways to process excess of energy and waste products is with regular walking. This is another reason why walking is good for you.
Simply start incorporating more walking into your daily life. Walk to the shops. Or just walk for no reason.
It’s kind of funny, but I live close to a yoga studio. Some evenings I see all these cars parked outside, engines running, and men sitting inside them waiting for their wives to finish their yoga class so they can drive them home. Isn’t this kind of defeating the purpose? Wouldn’t it be healthier to walk home after a class. I guess they might live far away – a mile, or heavens forbid – two miles?
Aim to go for a walk at least once a day. The best is after the evening meal, which will also help reduce high blood-sugar levels. If you have a dog, it can give you an extra motivation to get out, otherwise just imagine that you are the dog and you need to walk yourself.
Walk 1-2 miles or more depending on your health, body type, fitness levels. If you are in a weak condition, you may have to start off with less than that and gradually build up. If you are relatively healthy, walk longer and at a faster pace to get the blood pumping. Of course avoid dangerous areas and people.
Walking can make a lot of difference to your health and mental wellbeing. After months of doing this, your energy levels will increase, your mood will be better and you will be able to understand how it is that walking is good for you.
Here is a Video adaptation of the above post – 7 Reasons Why Walking is Good for You. It is shown on The Genki Health Channel.
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