Walking Is The Ultimate Exercise

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Physical exercise in general has a number of benefits for the health of your body:-

  • improves circulation, improves heart efficiency and maintains artery elasticity
  • tones respiratory muscles, improving exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • aids elimination of toxic and metabolic wastes by promoting perspiration and intestinal motility
  • stimulates endorphin release in the brain, fighting depression and improving our mood
  • regulates metabolism
  • neutralises stress
  • enhances immune function

Walking has even more benefits in addition to the above:-

  • it integrates and exercises the brain – requiring input from our balance receptors (mainly inner ear and jaw); proprioception from our feet, low back and neck; visual input and further information from pretty much everywhere else in the body. This is why it takes babies so long to learn.
  • the opposite arm and leg movements help harmonise the whole nervous system – improving mental function and co-ordination. Children with less co-ordination and learning difficulties like dyslexia tend to have been poor crawlers or walked too soon. A simple exercise may be all that’s needed to correct these problems, even as an adult.
  • walking is the only exercise that properly exercises your sacroiliac joints in your pelvis, which are responsible for 70% of back pain
  • walking stimulates ‘cranio-sacral’ rhythm, which in simple terms means your brain and nervous system keep bathed in nutrients. Cerebro-spinal fluid is the ‘blood’ of the nervous system, including the brain. The heart does not pump this fluid so other mechanisms such as deep breathing and walking are employed.
  • May be the only acceptable pre-breakfast exercise. You read that correctly, exercising while you are in a fasting state places your body under a great deal of stress and may be worse than not doing it at all!

Medical research has actually documented active walkers as having 20% less chance of getting breast cancer, a 30% less chance of getting heart disease, a 50% less chance of diabetes. No drug can do this.

So how much do you have to do? To improve your heart as little as half an hour, three times a week at a moderately brisk pace. The most benefits are gained by walking 7 hours a week, so a few short walks at lunch time or in the evening, with longer ones at the weekend.

To top it all off, walking requires no special equipment, it costs nothing, you already know how to do it and you can do it anywhere.

Thank you for reading, now go and have a walk.

Written by Dr Chris Pickard

Published on 8 May 2011

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