Walking seems to be growing in popularity in the many cities I visit and its easy to understand why more and more people are doing it now as part of their exercise routine. Walking is a relatively easy form of exercise to do. It's low-impact. It doesn't require a gym membership. It doesn't need any specialised equipment except for the right pair of shoes.
In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that walking topped the list as the most popular activity with 24 per cent of Australians walking as a form of exercise from 2011-2012. Walking is regarded as a cheap, reliable and healthy way to travel in London. The local government invested £9.12m into the Mayor's Walk London Network, creating 7 pan-London walking routes. Over 7 million people walk on the network each year, a 93% increase in walkers using the routes in just 5 years.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in US alone, more than 145 million adults now include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle. More than 6 in 10 people walk for transportation or for fun, relaxation, or exercise, or for activities such as walking the dog. The percentage of people who report walking at least once for 10 minutes or more in the previous week rose from 56% (2005) to 62% (2010). In New York, more locals are also walking to take in the sights of the 5 boroughs on their own or through tours.
So what is it about walking that has so many people doing it on a regular basis? I enlisted the help of 3 health and fitness experts including world renowned Australian podiatrist Phillip Vasyli, global health/wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil and fitness expert and celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska of JK Zen Fitness to identify the benefits of all of that walking.
Philip is best known for inventing the Orthaheel footwear brand that is clinically shown to reduce over-pronation, which can improve foot function and relieve associated pain. Dr Weil is the author behind 10 million copies of books on healthy lifestyle and aging, and recognised for his expertise in the field of integrative medicine and the Weil Integrative Footwear. Juliet Kaska is the fitness trainer of Hollywood stars like Kerry Washington, Ali Larter, Kate Walsh and Stacy Keibler in addition to her JK Zen Fitness Pilates Studio in Los Angeles. Here are our 7 reasons to start walking today and keep on walking tomorrow.
Walking is what our bodies were meant to do. Regular walking can help delay or prevent many of the aches and pains of aging and increasing immobility, allowing you to look younger and live longer. According to CDC, it lowers the risk of cognitive decline and hip fractures. Dr. Weil has long advocated walking as one of the best forms of exercise. He shared that if you walk often enough and fast enough, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can satisfy your body's daily requirements for aerobic activity.
Several studies have shown that walking can with weight management, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis and greatly reduce the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Phillip explained that by engaging in just 30 minutes of daily walking, people can dramatically improve their path to wellness while assisting with stress and anxiety management. With obesity in the young rising in many developed countries, walking, now more than ever, provides an easy way for people to take control of their health.
Among all forms of aerobic exercise, walking carries the least risk of injury unlike other more vigorous forms of exercise. It's also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly or those who haven't exercised in a long time. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and its something you can do throughout your life. There's no special skill, training or equipment needed except the right footwear. You can even walk for a good cause!
Availability of Proper Footwear
Dr Weil Rhythm Walker / Photo courtesy of Vasyli International
With advancements in footwear technology and medical science, shoes specially designed for walking are more readily available than before. This is especially important because improper footwear can make walking painful over time. According to a study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 72 percent of Americans say they do not exercise because foot pain prevents them from doing so. This can be resolved through quality and supportive footwear that restores the foot's proper alignment.
Orthaheel Julie Slingback Sandal / Photo courtesy of Vasyli International
In particular, Orthaheel and Dr. Weil Integrative Footwear offer walking-friendly shoes and sandals that are breathable, offer good arch support, are relatively lightweight and have flexible soles to allow the front of the foot to flex comfortably. An ideal option for daily walking is the Weil Rhythm Walker which features a removable orthotic footbed that supports the feet and helps realign the lower-legs, improving posture and balance.
Walking is one of the best reasons or excuses to invite someone you like out on a date or get fit to family and friends. You can also bring someone with you on walks to help you stay motivated in addition to the company and social interaction. Experts believe that couples and families who walk together tend to stay together. Best of all it costs you and your family near to nothing!
Apart from developing healthier lifestyle habits, pending more time in the company of those who walk will also expand your social circle. Instead of walking solo, check out the walking club in your neighbourhood and numerous ones that are sprouting up in every city around the world. For example, Bush Club in Sydney, Australia offers a large variety of track and off-track bushwalks in the surrounds of the city and state of New South Wales. Even if you decide not to join some walking mates, there's always the option of getting a dog according to Juliet. Now there's no excuse not to walk everyday with your loveable companion. Plus you get to have that lovable companion all the time!
The journey of 10,000 steps a day begins with a single step and Phillip, Dr Weil and Juliet will be kicking off a nationwide walking campaign in the US on 3 April 2013 coinciding with National Walking Day. This 2nd annual campaign organised by Orthaheel and Dr. Weil Integrative Footwear is inspired by Australia's aboriginal journey for well-being, during which one seeks to clarify his/her life purpose. It is a time of reflection and to reconnect with family and community.
The Walkabout focuses on helping people to adopt healthy habits over the course of 28 days by putting a public spotlight on walking for physical and emotional health. The campaign brings together an online community of walkers encouraging everyone to get out and walk. Participants will receive daily email encouragement, tips and the chance to win prizes. The public are also encouraged to serve as champions of walking and selected "ambassadors" will lead walking groups as part of the 28-day quest for good health. Anyone in the world can participate in the Walkabout. To find out more and sign up as a participant or "ambassador", click here. You might just find yourself putting on a new pair of walking shoes.
my suggestion - choose to live where everything you want is within walking distance - I live next to the CBD - walk to trains, shopping with a trolley, restaurants, parks, entertainment - no need for a car - I'm fit, healthy and happy and probably save $5-7k a year on new car expenses (I have an old one I drive twice a week).
if you live in the 'burbs where buying milk involves a trip in a car - chances are walking is something that drops off your to-do list - until it's too late and you may be obese and/or diabetic, etc.