Walking is a step in the right direction

Walking is one of the easiest ways to be physically active.

You can do it almost anywhere, any time and it is inexpensive. The only equipment you need is a pair of shoes with sturdy heel support.

How good is it for you? One answer lies in some research done on The Amish - a religious group that shuns technology. They have an obesity rate of only 4 per cent despite a meat and potatoes (and pie) diet.

In addition to quite vigorous physical activity around the commune, Amish adults average 16,000 steps daily. By comparison, North American adults log an average of 2,500 steps daily.

Yet, despite a high calorie diet rich in fat and refined sugar,the Amish have extremely low rates of heart disease and cancer.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we all go to work on the land. What is important, though, is to set goals.

Power walking

Let’s look at some comparisons between steps, times and distances.

The average step is about 2’-6” and one mile is 5,280 feet. So in one mile there are 5,280 divided by 2-1/2 = 2112 steps.

Assume a fairly vigorous speed of three miles an hour.

In thirty minutes that would be 2112 x 1-1/2 (miles in thirty minutes) = 3,168 steps. Added to daily incidental activity that should be close to, say, 5,000 steps per day.

That’s a marked improvement on the 2,500 steps taken by the average North American adult.

Therefore an achievable goal would be to gradually work up to thirty minutes per day.

Some benefits are:-

  • It gives you energy and makes you feel good.
  • It tones your muscles.
  • It strengthens your bones.

Some of the points to keep in mind as you plan your program are:-

  • Wear shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel, and thick flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock.
  • Before you buy a new pair, be sure to try them in the store.
  • Aim for at least three times a week. Add two or three minutes to your walk until you reach thirty minutes. Then work up to your goal of thirty minutes daily.

Some common sense safety tips include:-

  • Do not wear jewelry.
  • Do not wear headphones.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, check with your health care provider before you start your walking program:-

  • Do you have heart trouble, diabetes or asthma?
  • Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?
  • Do you feel very breathless after you have been physically active?

Suppose you manage to accomplish thirty minutes of walking a day. At 5000 steps a day, in twenty five years that would add up to almost 46 million steps or 21,603 miles.

That’s almost all the way around the earth. Now, wouldn’t that be an amazing goal!

Remember, a journey of 21,603 miles starts with one small step.