Walking for Your Health

Various U.S. guidelines call for adults to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week, for optimal health.  That sounds great, but it’s not realistic for everyone.  However, there is good news!

A study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that regular walking, 120 minutes weekly or even less, is associated with lower death rates (for any reason), compared with inactivity. In other words, you can fall short of the official guidelines and still benefit. Now, we’re not talking about strolling. We’re talking about walking at an average pace – which results in a slight increase in your breathing and allows you to cover approximately a mile in 20 minutes. Walking at that pace qualifies as moderate-intensity exercise.

In addition to lower death rates among those who walk regularly, “Walking for Health, A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report,” relates that other benefits include improved mental sharpness, improved mood, improved communication among parents and children who walk together, and increased social interaction with neighbors and others we meet on our walks.

From a Unitarian Universalist perspective, regular walking outdoors can enhance our respect and awe for the interdependent web of all existence.

Physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual benefits – all from walking outdoors regularly!

If this activity is not part of your routine but you are physically able to walk outside, I invite you to try to incorporate this into your life several days a week. And if you are not physically able to walk outside, I promise to explore options for you in a future column.

 

– Ann Yeo, R.N., M.S.N., Parish Nurse