By Victor Anya
Many people erroneously consider walking as a thing for the poor who cannot afford a car of their own or afford transport fares to commute from one place to another. Others perceive walking as something that should be done as a pastime. But walking is not a thing for the poor rather it is a deliberate daily routine for all and sundry for the purpose of fitness of the body and healthy living. Many people; the affluent people, the well-to-do and even the poor don’t believe in walking as they perceive it as a sign of suffering. They feel that people who walk from one place to other are doing so as a result of poverty or hardship. So, they move in cars even when going to places of short distances around their homes such as Churches, Mosques, markets, cinemas, newspaper stands etc. which they can easily walk to without stress or sweat. Most people use elevators and escalators instead of climbing the stairways which is healthy for them. If it is possible, some people would prefer to drive their cars into their kitchens, toilets and even their bedrooms; they don’t want to walk with their feet at all! But walking is not a luxury rather it is a need or obligatory we all must fulfil in order to live a healthy life.
To consider walking as a sign of suffering or lack of funds to buy a car or afford transport fares is merely acting out of sheer ignorance. The reason is because medical experts recommend walking as a routine that promotes healthy living. Also, they recommend that everyone takes 1,000 steps daily; this will amount to a distance of half kilometre. The current American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine standards call for able-bodied adults to do moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes on five days each week. More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine.”
But what are the benefits of walking? The benefits of walking are numerous. According to medical professionals, walking has many health benefits like reduction in cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress. In addition to the above, walking helps protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.
A few years ago in America, a study on 4, 995 men and women found that the average American gains about 2.2 pounds a year during middle age. But during the 15-year study, people who walked gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t; the more walking, the less weight gained. And the benefit was greatest in the heaviest individuals. For example, walking for just 35 minutes a day saved a 160-pound person about 18 pounds of flab over 15 years of aging. Taking 10,000 steps daily can help you control your weight and keep you healthy. Experts counsel that we make walking a part of our daily life. Walk to work, walk to store, walk to the bus terminal, walk to Church or Mosque, walk to market etc. Instead of parking your car in nearby lot, park your car farther and walk to your destination.
A new study says that frequent walking can add up to 7.2 years onto the life of an individual. The study reveals that whatever amount of walking the individual does will influence the number of years added to the individual’s life. It says that just 75 minutes a week, less than 11 minutes walking a day, can add 2 years onto an individual’s life. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals get about 150 minutes of walking a week, which comes to just over 20 minutes a day. A 1,000 step taken by an average person is equal to an half a mile which is very good for your health. Walking improves cholesterol level. Taking 1,000 steps daily will make a great difference in your body. According to Olson, “When you move more, you burn up cholesterol and other lipids in your bloodstream so they have less of a chance of invading and damaging your blood vessels.” So, one of the advantages of walking is the burning up of excess cholesterol in our bodies. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says any type of weight-bearing activity can strengthen your skeleton and fight osteoporosis. This is so because when you are walking, you are also placing the entire weight in your body on your bones which makes them work harder, the pressure stimulates cells called osteoblasts which can turn into brand-new cells and make the bones become stronger.
Another merit of walking is weight loss. Taking a minimum of 1,000 steps daily which amounts to half a kilometre will go a long way in reducing your weight. While walking, we unknowingly shed unwanted fast and water weight which in turn reduces the heavy weights we carry in our bodies. Walking promotes cardiovascular strength. The reason is because as we move from one point to another, the heart pumps harder to meet up with the oxygen demand. Thus, the heart maintains a steady and increased blood flow to the muscles and the brain. When walking, there is a release of endorphins which makes us feel happy, this in turn reduces stress. This improves our mental health, memory and functionality of the brain. Therefore, mental health is one other advantage of walking. Walking also helps to build a functional heart because when walking, the heart pumps blood vigorously to cardiac muscles and other parts of the body.
From medical perspective, walking is not just a pastime; it is not for the poor who cannot afford to buy a car of their own or pay the fares to commute from one point to another rather it is for everybody who is desirous to live a healthy life. Walking is a deliberate daily routine for all and sundry for the purpose of maintaining fitness of the body and healthy living. Take that walk today, take it tomorrow, take it every day, you need it.