Walking to Better Health

Ophelia Gherman, M.D.
March 6, 2016
This month we are focusing on setting and completing goals that will help us reach better health. This second installment is about finding ways to sneak walking into your day. Click to read on.

For many of us, walking is a rare occurrence. Cars, buses, trains, and bicycles beckon. Walking to our destinations has become uncommon for many of us. Yet walking offers ample time to think while expanding our lungs and oxygenating our body with an increased heart rate. It also offers time to reflect on the past and present and to form plans for the future. These days, many of us rush to work in our cars, with our eyes focused on the road, our minds thinking on everything we need to accomplish. Even as we are walking, our fingers are busy texting, googling or checking the weather.  

 

Recently, the importance of walking has been revived with the invention of technological devices like the pedometer, the Fitbit watch, and other phone apps that measure one’s daily steps. We already know that walking is beneficial. Multiple studies have shown that walking up to 10,000 steps per day (5 miles) can aid in weight loss and ward off obesity. But are we getting that much walking in our day?

 

A study done in 2003 showed that Americans walked on average 5,117 steps per day, significantly lower compared to western Australia (9,695 steps), Switzerland (9,650 steps) and Japan (7,168 steps). A sedentary lifestyle is considered 5,000 steps or less per day.

 

So, how can you incorporate walking in your day to day?

 

1) Jogging in place in the comfort of your own home or office is a great way to get extra steps. You can add approximately 800 steps with just 5 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace. Marching in place while brushing your teeth or washing dishes can add up to 300- 600 extra steps. Be creative and find ways to jump start your day with an extra set of steps; when jogging or marching becomes boring, do some jumping jacks instead.

 

2) We all go grocery shopping, right? Add a couple hundred steps to your trip by parking further from the entrance, walk around the perimeter of the store a few extra times, and return your cart back to the cart corral instead of leaving it by your car. If you’re aiming for a couple of stores in the same parking lot, park midway between your destination and walk to them both if you have a light load to carry.

 

3) Coming home after a long day can leave us overwhelmed with chores. Rather than tackling everything at once, try taking a stroll around the house to release some steam and calmly plan your evening. When taking out the trash or picking up the mail, take a couple extra trips up and down your driveway. Your blood pressure will thank you for every extra step.

 

4) At work, rather than emailing your co-worker, walk to their office.  Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator. Incorporate a 10-minute lunch walk to help digestion and add mileage to your health. Remember, every 2000 steps equals 1 mile, and every minute of exercise could lengthen your life by 7 minutes.

 

5) Walking with a neighbor is a great way to develop relationships and may open the door for a ministering opportunity. If you haven’t had a chance to get to know your neighbors ask them to join you for a walk the next time they are outdoors. You may be surprised how happy they are you asked. Getting healthy and witnessing at the same time—what a wonderful way to practice Christianity.

 

“Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33