Is Walking a Miracle Cure? : New Research Stuns

When talking to your colleagues at work about exercise, have you ever judged someone when they simply answer, “I walk”? I hate to say it but I think I have. Now, I think I know why this is…I was your all or nothing girl. I played sports in high school and was taught to go hard or go home. You have to be the fastest, the person who can hold the wall squats the longest, the one who doesn’t ever stop to take a breather, even if you’re about to pass out or lose your lunch. I would binge on exercise programs like “Insanity” and P90 X” and then quit because it was so miserable. 

What I didn’t know is that those people who simply “walk” may be the ones who are adding years onto their life. Sounds too simple right? Did you know that the average American only walks about 4,500 steps per day? If that sounds like a lot, trust me, it’s not. We sit more than ever binging our favorite shows (K-Dramas for me), playing video games for hours, working at our desks from dawn until dusk and we wonder why our joints are stiff, our backs are hurting, our posture has gone to the birds and we are heavier than ever. 

Recent studies have shown that by only increasing our steps to 7,500 per day, our mortality rate (that’s death rate to be frank) decreases by 20-30%. Wowza. Now that’s nothing to sleep on. It gets even better! The more steps you add to that, the more the percentage increases. Now who said walking was for the weak? Dr. Shane O’Mara, a Neuroscientist, states that the recommended steps for weight loss and optimal health benefits is between 10,000 – 12,000 steps per day. If we can’t squeeze that into our day (although I bet we could with some intention), even adding 8,000 steps twice per week can change your health outcomes.

If you need even more convincing, how about the new adage that “sitting is the new smoking!”  Now, I’m already behind the 8 ball with this one because I used to ride in the front seat of my grandmother’s Oldsmobile Cutlass, while she puffed on her cigarettes with the windows up (not to mention standing up without my seatbelt). So, I’m no newbie here with the second hand smoke situation. The British Journal of General Practice published a new study that shows that a sedentary lifestyle, which most Americans have, contributes to chronic health conditions and death. Well, what if we are working out 30 minutes at the gym per day or on our favorite app at home? That’s great and keep that up, but the ideal recommendation is to continuously walk and take steps during the day…all day. Thank goodness for the Apple Watch or the Fit Bit to count those steps for us!

If you need even more convincing, what if I told you that Dr. O’Mara also reminds us that regular walking has been shown in actual research studies to be as effective in the relief of mild to moderate depression and anxiety as some medications? Now, who of us cannot benefit from that kind of natural remedy?

Check this out! For those of us who are worrying about chronic diseases like cardiovascular health and cancer, a new study by JAMA (let’s just say they are legit), shows that walking 10,000 steps can improve cardiovascular (heart) health and reduce the risks of both Dementia and Cancer BETTER than any pill or injection currently available. Read that again just so it sinks in. 

I will raise my hand and say I didn’t think walking was anything to write home about. I was bored by even the thought of it. I used to see teachers with their teacher buddies walking in fast motion around our Elementary school every single day and I would scoff and think, “Why don’t you try something hard like running some sprints or some Tae Bo (Billy Blanks anyone?)! I take back everything I’ve always thought about walkers. I started my own fitness journey a couple of years ago by simply walking my dog around the neighborhood once or twice per week. I built up to heavier cardio work but I still always go back to the classic walking because of the benefits. 

Grab your buddy, fast walk around the school or your workplace. Proudly wear it like a badge of honor because you are doing something miraculous for your mind and body. Find those sneaky ways to get in more walking like parking further from the stores, walking around the mall in the winter, signing up for a 5K and walking it leisurely with a friend for charity, etc. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it to reap these benefits! 

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