by Keila Chaliotis, Staff Writer
You might be wondering what is man’s best medicine. This medicine is humankind’s first form of transportation and something we take for granted nowadays. Give up? Well, walking is the best medicine for man, at least according to Hippocrates. Remember him? He is the ancient Greek physician who coined the phrase back in Ancient Greece. We also owe him the Hippocratic Oath, followed by healthcare personnel who swear to practice medicine in an honest manner.
Walking, when done properly and regularly, can be very beneficial to maintain weight, reduce stress, manage and reduce health risks, strengthen bones, strengthen and tone muscles and burn fat. Walking will burn the harmful, bad cholesterol in our bodies while increasing the beneficial, good cholesterol. As you reduce the bad cholesterol and increase the good the chances of heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure are reduced.
Some studies have indicated that walking regularly can increase life expectancy and may even prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Other studies have indicated that walking regularly reduce the chances of cancer and type 2 diabetes. It is also a good way to release stress, reduce anxiety and depression.
If you decide to take on walking as an exercise, you must get the right shoes. The most effective shoes must have proper arch support and thick flexible soles. Thick soles are good to cushion your feet and absorb shock from continuous stepping on the floor. You can wear any clothes. Just make sure you are comfortable in it.
Secondly, walking as an exercise must be done in a correct posture. This will maximize its benefits and also prevent any injuries that can result from not walking correctly. A correct posture begins with a relaxed body. Avoid having stiffed, upright neck, shoulders and back. However, keep your body straight up and avoid arches in your back, weather forward or backward. Your head must be up high, so you look forward and not at the ground. You should swing your arms, with a slight bend in your elbows. You can also pump with your arms. Walk smoothly, such that your foot rolls from your heel to toe.
Many people choose a path on where to do their walk. An ideal path would be one with few dangers to your body, such as cracked sidewalks, potholes or low-lying tree limbs. One recommendation is to use a path that is frequented by other people who walk on it. It will be a good way to meet other walkers and get tips from them.
As any exercise or sport, it is always a good idea to stretch your muscles before you start to walk. Once you have done a good stretch, walk for five to ten minutes. This slow walk will warm up the body and prepare it for faster walking. Once you have done your warm 5-10 minute walk you can increase your speed and walk at your own pace for a minimum of thirty minutes. The more time your walk the better for your body. The faster you walk the better for your body. However, don’t overwork yourself, especially if you are a beginner. Slow down your pace in case you feel the need to do so. As you invest more time into the exercise the better the results and more endurance you will get. As you increase your endurance you will increase your speed and amount of time you practice this exercise.
Before you end your walk, slow your speed down and walk slowly for five to ten minutes. This slow walk will help your muscles cool down before you come to a complete stop.
Most studies recommend investing a minimum of thirty minutes a day for walking and a minimum of three days a week. As said before, the longer and faster you walk the better results you will get. In fact, once you start you will not want to stop and will be counting the minutes for your scheduled walks. You might even increase the number of times you walk during the day. Walking lifts your mood and improves your balance and coordination. This you will see at home and at work within two weeks. If you play another sport or starting one, you will also see better results and endurance.
So get your tennis shoes and start walking. This is man’s best medicine both physically and mentally, as well as socially and economically (in the short and long runs). Walking is the gateway to other exercises. Once you walk and get fit you will eventually run and practice other sports. Start with only 30 minutes of your time.