Sunday, July 7, 2013

#107: WALK

In the video below, Dr. Mike Evans touts exercise as the preventative medicine for arthritis, fatigue, depression, among a host of other common ailments. He makes an interesting recommendation at the end that I think you'll be interested in. Watch it now. 

As someone who's been active her own life, I found it surprising how low-intensity exercise can be so beneficial. I've grown up competitive swimming, running, playing soccer and baseball, and more recently biking, and believing that those high intensity workouts were needed to keep my heart strong and my waistline slim. But Dr. Evans suggests that a change as simple as walking for an extra 12 minutes a day or getting off the bus a stop earlier could help lower high blood pressure.

This is not unlike what I read in an article at The Atlantic. Alexis C. Madrigal, a daily runner with a sedentary lifestyles (like me), was surprised to learn that on her 3.5 mile runs she somehow clocked fewer steps than on a day she spent puttering around a New York airport. Her anecdotal finding supported what researcher Greg Furrie discovered:
"Gregg Furie of Yale Medical School led a study that showed that less than 25 percent or people walked or biked as a means to get from one place to another for more than 10 straight minutes in a given week. And yet, Furie's study found that people who engaged in 'active transportation,' as he calls it, had lower BMI, smaller waists, and lower odds of hypertension and diabetes." Source
This was a friendly reminder of a lesson I learned during treatment. At a time when my body was run down from chemotherapy and radiation, I learned the value of going for a walk. This article added a new element to that lesson, similar to what Dr. Evans suggests. In January of this year, I aimed to walk daily, not as an additional activity that required more time and planning, but as a means for getting from point A to point B.

To do this, I omitted the streetcar from my daily commute. Typically, I take the bus > subway > streetcar. Without the streetcar, I was walking an extra 20-25 minutes from the station to my office everyday. I also got a little extra Vitamin D, practiced mindful walking, and had extra time to myself to transition into and out of a hard day's work.

Although my goal was never to lose weight, I lost fifteen pounds since then. And kept it off. As it turns out, walking as a means of transportation is also a simple and sustainable way to shed a few extra pounds. Without those fifteen pounds, the walk is a lot easier. I don't sweat as much, it doesn't hurt as much, and I enjoy the feeling of my body move. And since losing that weight, I'm running and strength training on a regular basis.

It doesn't surprise me that Dr. Mike Evans suggests walking as the best thing you can do for your health. Our bodies were designed to be in motion. And once you start walking and reaping the benefits of simple, low-intensity exercise, it's hard to stop.

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