The benefits of walking are immense. Imagine if there was a magic medication that could reduce risk factors for dementia and mental decline, halve the risk for Type 2 Diabetes, decrease risk for cardiovascular disease, reduce stress, cholesterol, and blood pressure, help curb painful symptoms associated with arthritis, and prevent anxiety and depression. That stuff would be flying off the shelves! The good news is, this prescription is free; just go for a walk.
Walking has been proven to decrease the amount of mental decline and onset of dementia experienced by seniors who walk 6-9 miles per week. It halves the risk for Type 2 Diabetes when done 5 days per week, 30 minutes per day and coupled with diet changes. Walking the before mentioned recommendation of 5 days per week, 30 minutes per day also cuts the risk for cardiovascular disease in half along with reducing stress, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Walking can also reduce pain associated with arthritis as well as improve functional mobility, mood, and quality of life. It also combats depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins that promote relaxation.
Meeting this recommendation may sound time consuming, but can be done in smaller bouts. You have a busy work week? Walk 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes on your lunch break, and 10 minutes when you get off. If you have a dog, get in the habit of walking your dog at a certain time every day and on days when you don’t feel like walking, your dog can wake you up and motivate you when you are having trouble finding motivation for yourself.
Forming a walking group in your community would also be a great way to get stepping! A walking group could provide social support when starting a walking program and could be a great way to get together with your friends, family, and neighbors and chat while getting healthy.
The only walking group we currently have in motion is our Whitesville Walking Group that meets every Thursday at 6pm at the Whitesville Salamy Building.
If you have an interest in starting a walking group in your community Active Southern West Virginia is interested in helping motivated community leaders obtain a Walk with Ease Certification, which arms one with the knowledge necessary to comfortably lead a walking program that caters specifically to the arthritic population but can easily be transferred to an overweight or obese population.
“To increase your activity level and daily step counts, look for opportunities to be more active. Park further away from your destination, if it is safe to do so, and take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Even small amounts of additional activity increase total calorie expenditure and can make a difference in your fitness level and overall health over time.” –American College of Sports Medicine recommendation
The WVU Extension Office’s Summer Step Program is still going on until August 31st, so get together with friends, family, and neighbors or fly solo; whatever you do, track those steps at https://extension.wvu.edu/food-health/fitness/summer-steps!
Want to learn more about walking in general and see what all the fuss is about? Check out this short documentary, many of the concepts align with some of our objectives here at Active.