In November 2011 my daughter Kiana and I ran the Honolulu Hawaii Marathon. I searched for a “Honolulu Hawaii Marathon” closer to home, but could not find any. Alas, we had to force ourselves and fly to Hawaii. There we ran 26.2 miles of beautiful Oahu, a full marathon.
Now I use the word ‘ran’ very liberally. I did a lot of walking. A lot. (The next time you see me, ask me how long I took to complete the marathon). The point is, we finished and have our medals and tee-shirts to prove it. We trained for eight months before the trip, running and sometimes walking up and down our street.
Positive Health Benefits
Recently I found out that walking as an exercise, as opposed to running, has positive health benefits. Let us review a few here.
According to a study of 334,000 people by researchers at the University of Cambridge, a regular brisk walk, just 20 minutes a day, cuts your risk of premature death by almost a third. Two other studies, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, suggest that walking can be a “potent weapon” in the battle against cancer.
The first study showed that over an eight-year period, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and who walked for seven or more hours a week, were roughly half as likely to die from the disease than those who did not. The second study showed similar findings, this time for people who had intestinal cancers.
Walking Creates a Body Overhaul
Remember this is walking as an exercise not running.
- A Harvard study showed that a brisk walk of about an hour a day counteracts by half the effects of “weight-promoting genes.”
- Just 15 minutes of walking can curb the cravings for chocolate and a variety of sugary snacks.
- Walking boosts the immune system and eases joint pain. Yes, several studies have found that walking protects the joints and reduces arthritis-related pain by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles that support them.
- All the studies seem to confirm the fact that a regular walking schedule will reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events including heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.
Side Effects and Drug Interaction Risks Eliminated
One researcher stated in regards to the benefit of walking “it’s like a miracle drug.” Now to be very clear, any new activity you plan to engage in like this should have the blessing of your health care provider. It is important to realize that if the benefits of walking is to be maximized, the “brisk walk” should be fast and long enough to produce a slight sweat, at least.
In conclusion, the Greek physician and “Father of Medicine, ” Hippocrates of Kos (460 BC – 370 BC), once said “Walking is man’s best medicine.” The founder of preventive cardiology and physician to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dr. Paul D. White (of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome fame), confirms this when he wrote “a vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy, but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
So why don’t you join me and get motivated? Begin to walk for your health. Begin today.