Walk, don’t run! | Sunday Observer

Walk, don’t run!

Fitness walking has revolutionized the way we live. the celebrated Greek philosopher said, “Man alone, among all living beings, walks erect, because his nature and his being are divine.” Fitness walking came to be regarded as a way to live healthily only in the 1980s. In the United States of America fitness walking has grown from an infant activity to a fitness activity for people of all ages. The sales figures of sports shoes prove this point. Today, most people think fitness walking is ‘the new kid on the block’.

What is fitness walking? It is brisk walking with a low impact or stress form of exercise. It is not ‘power walking’ where walkers are pounding the pavements and lanes at more than five kilometres an hour. It is also not ‘race walking’ where walkers pump their arms vigorously backwards and forwards as they stride along at eight to nine kilometres an hour. Fitness walking is simply an aerobic exercise without the risk to your hips, knees and ankles experienced in jogging.

Fitness walking is the only exercise suitable for any age group. Both, the young and old can walk without any special skills. In order to walk you do not need a jogging track or any other special equipment. Biomechanical studies show that your feet pound the ground with three to four times your body weight when jogging. Your feet pound four to five times your body weight when performing dance or aerobics. Your feet strike the ground with only one to 1.5 times your body weight when fitness walking, making it the safest form of aerobic exercise.

Back pain

Fitness walking can also help with back pain, heart disease, bone strength, premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, hypertension, cholesterol, respiratory problems, cardiac rehabilitation, arthritis, varicose veins, and smoking. How often should you walk? According to fitness experts, walking four times a week for 30 minutes at a time at a moderately brisk rate will build cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.

Changing our busy lifestyle is not so easy. Everybody likes to improve their health but have no time for regular exercise. Even those who join a gym give it up after a while, because they cannot incorporate it in their busy lifestyles. However, even a busy executive can walk to his office or go for a walk in the evening. If you walk briskly, you will give your body the much needed aerobic exercise. Here again there is a category of people who cannot go for a brisk walk, for instance, if one of your legs is partially or fully paralysed. Even such people should try to walk. You may have seen people walking with the aid of crutches. They know that walking is the only exercise they can do.

Even great philosophers and authors such as, Hippocrates, Aristotle and Charles Dickens were great walkers. They kept themselves fit by walking. If such great people could walk, you can begin to walk any time, anywhere. As mentioned, you do not need any equipment for walking. If necessary you can wear a pair of shoes, but barefoot walking gives your feet the much needed exercise. What is more, there is no age limit for walking. Children, the young and the old can walk and reap its benefits.

Brisk walking

Experts remind us that brisk walking is more effective than slow walking. If you walk for 10 minutes, you should walk briskly without stopping. You should be slightly huffed up but not out of breath. Walking should be hard, but not too hard.

You should avoid taking a walk immediately after meals. Brisk walking is best when done on an empty stomach. If possible, go for a walk before breakfast.

It will improve your appetite in addition to making you physically fit. If you are planning to do brisk walking at any other time, do so at least three hours after a major meal. If you cannot walk fast due to some physical problem, walk for a longer distance.

A daily walk in the morning or evening will give a turbo boost to your body and mind. You will never feel lazy after a good walk. Instead, you will feel energized to do any hard work. Great walkers are also great sleepers. If you are aiming at a good night’s sleep, go for a walk in the evening. Do so and experience its amazing results.

Blood pressure

Walking will keep diabetes under control and reduce blood pressure. Walking will also make your heart stronger and enhance your life expectancy. If you walk regularly, it will become a habit you cannot give up easily. Such a habit will naturally become a rewarding sport. If you are in good health, head to the nearest hill and practise hiking. It is a great energy booster.

The celebrated Greek philosopher, Plato, in ‘The Republic’ said, “The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul.” What he meant was that walking or any other physical exercise is an invitation to explore yourself, to deepen your understanding of yourself.

Although walking can improve the condition of your heart, help you control your weight and your general fitness, many walkers know that inner walking can change their attitude to life. Inner walking combines the benefits of aerobic exercises with the meditative tradition of the East, where spiritual and psychological health is valued to a great extent. Whole fitness walking stretches our bodies, inner walking stretches our minds and souls. There is no mystery in inner walking. It consists of knowing how to walk, how to breathe and how to smile or even laugh at ourselves. While walking smile at everybody you meet, but do not forget the fact that inner walking would set free the creative forces within us.

If you are a creative writer and running short of ideas, go for a walk and see how you get wonderful insights into a whole new world of ideas. Han-Shan, the 16th century Zen master put it very succinctly, “I took a walk. Suddenly I stood still, filled with the realization that I had no body or mind. All I could see was one great illuminating whole.”

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