One thing in advance. I personally believe, based on experience and study, that walking has to be one of the best exercises out there. Whether you’re interested in health, fitness, weight loss, or aging, not many things have as beneficial an effect as walking.

In fact, before we try to put down and belittle walking as exercise, let’s be noble and try to point out some of its good points.

As a general all-purpose exercise, walking IS one of the best. After all, you can…

  • Help improve overall health through a multitude of beneficial results
  • Improve the strength, efficiency and capacity of the heart and lungs
  • Improve the efficiency of the body’s immune system.
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve the general emotional state.
  • increase energy
  • Delay some effects of the aging process
  • Helps maintain muscle tone and balance.
  • It helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Auxiliary in the control of diabetes.

Yeah, it’s going to be hard to say bad things about walking.

After all, it’s so easy to do, and no real training or special equipment is needed. In fact, we’ve been doing it for almost a year of our lives, so what’s the problem? If it’s so good, why aren’t we all Olympic-class athletes and healthy as horses?

Well, our bodies were designed when people walked a lot more than they do today. Our ancestors, and I’m not talking about today’s grandmothers and grandfathers, of which I am one, often had to walk miles on any given day to gather food or hunt it…often chasing it at a fast pace for hours. and hours. Going from the living room sofa to the car, from the car to the office and vice versa, with a few trips to the refrigerator does not count.

After all, how do we really spend our days? We sit in those cars, at desks, in front of TVs or computers, eat meals full of non-nutritious foods, and then go to bed.

Hears! Did you get up early this morning or did you go to bed late? That’s more time you have to burn calories, right? Wrong. You may have pumped some cortisol into your bloodstream and that will help you gain weight, but that’s another article.

The point is that we don’t live as we should in terms of the amount of activity we need. It has been estimated by serious scientists that we need at least 30 minutes of strenuous activity EVERY DAY to experience high-level health benefits from walking or any other exercise. A few years ago, a study indicated that only about 20% of Americans met that goal.

And while walking is great overall exercise, it does come with some drawbacks.

The first thing to throw away is the “perfect” exercise. With all of its health benefits, there are some things you can’t do. Our bodies need to stretch almost daily. This doesn’t need to be vigorous or painful, but it does need to be regular. Walking can’t do that. We also need some loading and resistance exercises for the parts of the body where walking doesn’t work. Again, this doesn’t have to be incredibly strenuous, but it does need to happen on every part of the body a couple of times a week. In fact, many people divide their resistance exercises into upper and lower body, or by some other split, doing one set of exercises one day alternating with the other. For example, I do upper body dumbbell training on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday.

Walking isn’t “perfect” either if you have a specific exercise goal that you just don’t address. For example, a tennis player may benefit from better stamina and leg strength from walking, but will need to do other exercises to strengthen the muscles in the arms and chest to swing the racket.

Walking for health should be not only regular, but also energetic. It may be necessary to warm up before an actual hike, and for beginners, you will almost certainly need to rack up those 30 minutes we were talking about. There are even experts who recommend 45 minutes a day, but 30 minutes a day should be the minimum.

Also, you DO need a good team. A good pair of walking shoes as a minimum and appropriate clothing for the temperature and weather.

Whatever you do, by the way, get your doctor’s guidance and blessing before embarking on any exercise program.

So this is what you do. Start your new program gently and start walking every day. It can be in a mall, in a park, at the zoo, in the woods, along the coast… wherever! Then, after you’ve given your body a few weeks to adjust and your mind a chance to realize that this isn’t bad and that you actually feel better than before, and once you’ve done that, I’ll dare I say the word: “exercise” as a part of your life, start with some extremely light weights and start doing resistance exercises a couple of times a week. Start doing a little stretching every day and you’ll get there.

I’ve finished. I think I’ll go back to the pasture and take a walk… if my neighbor’s goats don’t come through the fence again.

Hears! There is a thought. I think I’ll write an article on excuses for NOT exercising.

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