Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stop Sitting and Start Walking for Your Health!

Walking May Be The Only
Exercise You'll Ever Need!
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of information on the news about how unhealthy sitting is for us.  I have even heard reports that sitting too much can be as dangerous for our health as smoking!  I don't know if that is true or not, although some researchers certainly seem to believe it is. 

Dangers of Sitting Too Much

Whether or not sitting can harm your health as much as smoking, it does appear that spending long hours in a chair can increase your chances of diabetes and cancer, and lead to an early death.  These health risks alone should make us want to get out and start moving.

Sadly, the older you are, the more likely you are to spend hours sitting each day; thus, the dangers of sitting can have severe health consequences as we age.  Researchers highly recommend that, at the very least, people should get up and move around for at least 5 minutes out of every hour.  Use those television commercials to get moving!

The January-February 2012 issue of the AARP Bulletin had an insert that enthusiastically proclaimed that walking may be the only fitness exercise you'll ever need.  They suggested that everyone should get out and walk more if they hope to improve the status of their health. 

How to Start a Walking Program

If you plan to start a new walking exercise program, be sure to get yourself a good pair of walking shoes.  If you do not like heavy walking shoes and you do not plan to participate in a marathon, I have found that the Sketcher's GoWalk shoes (available here from Amazon) are very comfortable and meet the needs of most casual walkers.

Start out slowly, and only go a short distance if you are not accustomed to walking very far.  Start with 5 or 10 minutes, and work up to 30 minutes a day.  If you can't walk 30 minutes all at once, split your time up into smaller segments.  For example, you could walk for 15 minutes twice a day, or walk for 10 minutes three times a day.  If you are willing to wear a pedometer or fitness bracelet like the Fitbit (also available from Amazon), your ultimate goal should be 10,000 steps a day, although it may take you a few months to reach that level.  If you have been sedentary, however, be realistic.  You may be getting less than 5,000 steps a day at first, and that is perfectly OK.

Benefits of Joining a Walking Group

Personally, I have found it really helps to have walking partners.  I walk several times a week with two friends.  In nice weather, we walk along the beach.  If the weather is chilly or drizzly, however, we stroll through the local mall for 45 minutes to an hour.  Either way, we end our walk with a cup of coffee or tea, and some fun conversation.  It's a delightful outing that we all look forward to, and it's good to know that it enhances our health, as well.

If you are a Baby Boomer, you may be interested in keeping up to date with current information affecting our age group by using the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on how to stay healthy, where to retire, financial planning, changing family relationships and more.

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Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

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