Walk It Off
By Dr. Robin Whale
With so much conflicting health advice available to us in the information age, we’ve lost some of our basic common sense. We’ve forgotten what our grandparents taught us and traded in some of their sage advice for unnecessary technological complications. Remember when people used to say walk it off? Got an injury, an upset, fatigue? Walk it off. These days, we’re more likely to be told to rest or take a pill. But we are actually designed to heal by moving.
You don’t need special equipment or a membership in a gym to get great exercise. Walking is actually the best thing you can do to increase your health and vitality. Scientific studies have shown us staggering results with this most basic and simple activity:
Arthritis of the knee decreased by 47%
Dementia and Alzheimer’s in the elderly decreased by 50%
Diabetes decreased by 58%
Hip fractures in postmenopausal women decreased by 41%
Anxiety decreased by 48%
Depression decreased by 47%
And if none of those applies to you, here’s the whopper: Walking lowers your risk of death by 23%.
Obviously there’s no way around eventual death, but we all want our quality of life to be as good as possible for as long as possible. Walking is the greatest and simplest way to increase our overall health. Let’s get started…
Adding it In
- Take the stairs whenever that’s an option.
- Take the parking spot farthest from the mall doors – You may need one closer some day and wish you didn’t have to.
- Use the dog as your walking coach – They’ll tell you when it’s time!
Building the Habit
- Put your walking shoes in front of the door as a reminder.
- Create a specific time of day and set an alarm on your computer.
- Get a buddy – We’ll often skip it if it’s just for us, but we’re less likely to let others down.
Making it Stick
- Start with a small amount of time – When we take on too much, we often just give up. If you feel too busy, start with 10 minutes and add on even 1 minute every day until you build to 30, or 3 sets of 10.
- Reward yourself – Find small ways to pat yourself on the back every time you go for your walk, like 10 minutes to read your favourite magazine. Or a bigger congratulations for a week of walking, like coffee and dessert at your favourite cafe, a new pair of walking socks, or even a pedicure.
- Get it done first thing – You’ll have one less thing to think about and you’ll feel great about yourself all day!
When I started my practice as a chiropractor 23 years ago, people didn’t sit as much as they do today. I never saw arthritis in 18-year-old spines – but today I do. Canadians, on average, spend 4.2 hours watching TV every single day. Just taking 30 minutes out of that time can create baby steps that lead to big strides. When it comes to the complexities of health, remember the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Keep it simple: Think well, eat well, move well.
Dr. Robin Whale and his wife, Dr. Caroline Taylor, have chiropractic practices in Port Hope and Millbrook, Ontario. http://www.whalefamilychiropractic.ca