Health & Fitness

Walk your way out of high blood pressure and dementia

Walking improve psychological well-being and also burns calories and reduces your chances of cardiovascular disease and type-two diabetes. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Walking improve psychological well-being and also burns calories and reduces your chances of cardiovascular disease and type-two diabetes. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The holidays are over and we are back to work. This does not mean that we cannot enjoy the fresh air and sunshine during even the busiest of working weeks. Not only does walking improve psychological well-being but it also burns calories and reduces your chances of cardiovascular disease and type-two diabetes.

Most developed countries have a national Walk-to-Work Day but there is no need to wait for such a day to act. What better time is there to ditch the car keys and dig out your walking shoes to reduce the weight gained over the holidays? It is the oldest, safest and one of the most beneficial forms of exercise you can participate in on a daily basis. It is free, it is sustainable and you will get fit along the way.

Here are the most common excuses given for not walking to work and why they are easily debunked:

I do not have time — it means I will have to get up earlier.

Getting up half an hour earlier in the morning is not that hard. Make it a priority and make time for it in your appointment calendar. If you can make extra time to swing by for that breakfast in the morning, you can make time for your health.

It is too far. With the cost of living at the moment, it is true that not all of us can afford to live within 2-3km from our workplace. But you can still walk half or even part of the way by parking the car a little further from the office or getting off at an earlier bus stop.

January is too hot. The beauty about walking to work on a January morning is you are doing so at the coolest part of the day and gaining health.

What if it rains? There is no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing. Invest in a waterproof raincoat or sturdy windproof umbrella and boots.

It is boring, though. There are plenty of things you can do on your morning walk to keep you engaged and productive. Grab some ear buds and stride it out to motivational music or some of the latest industry-specific podcasts to make the most of your journey.

You can also vary your route and monitor your progress with a step-counter to change things up a little.

The health benefits of walking for only 30 minutes a day, five times a week:

• Improves blood pressure by five points

• Limits colon cancer by 31 per cent for women

•Boosts endorphins, which eases stress, tension, anger, fatigue, and confusion in ten minutes

•Reduces glaucoma risk

•Halves Alzheimer’s disease risk over five years

•Limits sickness by halving odds of catching a cold

• Improves heart health by increasing heart rate and circulation

• Prevents dementia in older people