When was the last time that you walked anywhere?
I am not talking here about hiking over mountains and trudging down into deep sided valleys. I am not referring to route marches either.
Think about it. When was the last time that you made the effort to walk, rather than jumping in the car or hopping on the subway train?
Walking is one of the easiest and most effective forms of aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate and therefore your blood circulation) that there is and it is something that is available to everyone at no cost.
In fact, walking will actually save you money, as well as helping to protect the world that we live in.
It saves money on your gasoline bill and reduces the amount of automobile generated pollutants that are pumped into the atmosphere that we all breathe, for example.
Taking a regular walk helps lower the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and some cancers, as well as reducing your body fat and lowering your blood pressure. Unlike many other forms of exercise (e.g. jogging), walking is low impact and low intensity, so the risk of injury is minimized as well.
If you walk a couple of kilometers to the store instead of taking the bus or subway, then you do yourself some good as well as keeping a dollar or two in your pocket.
Walking is something that you can do anytime, anywhere and at absolutely zero cost. All that you need are a pair of comfortable shoes, preferably with cushioned soles to protect your feet and leather uppers (or ones made of other natural materials such as canvas) that will allow your feet to breathe.
Many modern athletic shoes are constructed entirely of synthetic materials (generally, some form of plastic) and wearing them therefore leads to an unhealthy build up of sweat. This can lead to fungal conditions like athletes foot, and having such a condition would seriously curtail your exercise program, so wearing the right shoes from the beginning is extremely important.
Perhaps you think that you have no time or opportunity to walk? Let me tell you, that is just an excuse.
Everyone has the opportunity to walk if they are willing to make minor adjustments to the way they live their everyday life.
For example, if you take public transport to work every day – the subway train or bus – how about getting off a couple of stops early and walking the rest of the way? It will add five minutes to your journey time, but if that can add a couple of extra years to your life, wouldn’t you consider that to be a reasonable trade-off?
Have you ever thought of walking the children to school, rather than piling them into the back of the SUV and driving them the one kilometer that it takes? Walking it would not only be good for you, but it also teaches your children good habits from an early age, and there is research which indicates that children who are taught that walking is a good idea when they are young tend to continue doing it throughout their later life.
You protect your own health and that of your children for years to come with just one small change in your daily routine.
What about taking the dog for a walk in the morning and once again, last thing at night?
You don’t have a dog? You don’t need a pooch with a pedigree, so go to the local dog rescue center or shelter and find yourself a new four legged friend.
Walking the dog in this manner might mean getting out of bed ten minutes earlier, but, as I suggested earlier, isn’t that a reasonable trade off for a few extra years?
Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions are, you will have to use the car. If, for example, you work in a remote place without adequate public transport, or you need to go to the local mall for a full weeks’ grocery shopping, then you probably have little choice but to drive.
In this situation, how about parking the car in the car park at the furthest point from your destination, and walking a few hundred meters?
If you are shopping, you are going to push a trolley with all of your groceries in it from the store to your car, so that adds a bit of extra effort (i.e. exercise) to what you are doing, and if you are working, then you are not going to be carrying anything heavy every day, so there is no excuse for not doing this!