Natural health


Vol. 7 Issue 21

The National Academy of Sciences recommends 60 minutes of moderately intense activity a day; however the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), report that 75% of Americans fail at meeting the 30-minute recommendation. And, one-third of Americans live sedentary lives.

An easy, free, safe, and pleasant activity is walking — an activity that many Americans don’t do enough of; it’s an activity very beneficial to overall health.

Greg Heath, lead scientist at the CDC’s Physical Activity and Health Branch, explained the metabolic changes induced by walking, noting how the adrenal glands secrete adrenaline into the bloodstream, which signals the heart to beat faster and boosts blood pressure. As more blood is pumped throughout the body, more oxygen and nutrients are transported, which enable the muscles to utilize carbohydrates and sugar starches that have been stored – thus increasing the metabolism and easing digestion.

Walking subsequently causes the brain to release endorphins and serotonin, which elevates mood. Walking also lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of blood clots, improves circulation, aids in digestion, enables the body to process fat and energy, which makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, and helps you sleep better.

Walking is the best choice as a regular form of physical activity, for those without prohibitive disabilities, according to Mark Fenton, host of PBS series “America’s Walking,” former coach of a national racewalking team, and author of “The Complete Guide to Walking for Health, Weight Loss and Fitness.”

Fenton noted that for the many Americans who are overweight, that walking is safer than running, due to the lesser degree of impact, which can lead to problems in the hips, knees and ankles.

Walking is also the one routine that can be continued throughout times of change — such as during pregnancy, during some injuries, and while aging.

SOURCE: The Washington Post, October 2002;