• Stephanie Tourles

Walk For Life



Hello Friends! Hope everyone is happy, well, and warm! It's March already - can you believe it? Yahoo . . . spring should visit Maine in about two months. Can't wait for the greening! I'm going to share with you an article I wrote over 10 years ago . . . as it is still very relevant today. It's about the simple act of walking for exercise - it never goes out of style. Daily movement, such as walking (whether fast, slow, or somewhere in between), is sooooo important for your mental and physical health, and general well being. I just can't stress it enough. Walking Fun Fact: Speed walking at a 4-mile per hour pace works up a healthy sweat and burns approximately 400 calories. Remember Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion? It states, "An object at rest tends to remain at rest. An object in motion tends to remain in motion." So how does this physics law relate to you? Well, try thinking of it this way: A sedentary body has no get-up-and-go and can easily remain sedentary, but an active body often has an easier time continuing to exercise throughout life because of increased energy and vitality. The less you do, the less you can do. The more you do, the more you can do. Energy begets energy. Get it? What exercise do I, and thousands of health and fitness experts, recommend to recharge your life and get the fitness ball in motion? Walking . . . and it can be done at any time of the year. Think you don't have a place to walk? Think again, my friend. I live in a rural locale with a climate that's very cold and snowy for at least 4 months out of the year - most years, that is. That doesn't give me an excuse not to walk. I simply bundle up and strap on my short-frame, aluminum snowshoes and off I go - whether in the woods, field, or on the golf course. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, so don't let the winter slow you down. I really like to walk on the beach or mountain trail, but city parks, and local sidewalks are nice, too. If outdoor walking is not practical due to inclement weather or safety reasons, then try the local mall. Just give the mall management team a call and ask about their "mall walking" schedule. Lots of people do it, especially early in the morning. If you like to exercise at home, then a treadmill is a great way to get in your daily mileage while viewing the news or listening to music or audio books. I like simple exercises and walking fills the bill. It's completely portable, very easy, and it's something you can do (and enjoy) for the rest of your life. If you invite a friend or two along, it becomes a pleasant and uplifting social event as well. If you've got a dog companion, he will enjoy (and benefit from) the exercise, too. So I'm telling you this . . . you don't have an excuse to sit on your duff and physically expand from lack of exercise. Walking is convenient, plain and simple. No more excuses . . . just get up and go! Did you know tht brisk walking, in particular, is superior in many aspects to running and jogging in terms of overall health benefits? Why? First, almost everyone can walk. Second, your risk of injury is far less than for most other types of aerobic exercises. Third, you can do it almost anywhere. Finally, it's low cost; the only equipment required is a good pair of walking shoes. Chinese Proverb: Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still. Personally, I think walking is the best exercise for women. Running, jogging, jumping rope, and some other vigorous aerobic activities can be extremely jarring and damaging to the joints and breasts. But walking is one exercise you can truly start ultra-slowly and gradually build up to speed. Walking Benefits For All Ages . . . A walking program will help prevent and protect you from all manner of health concerns, such as osteoporosis, weight gain, problem pregnancies, menopause, stress, muscle loss, flagging energy, heart disease, and stroke. Daily walking will go a long way toward keeping you happy and healthy. It full engages your body, mind, and spirit. 1. Put in your time. 45 to 60 minutes daily: That's what your eventual goal should be. Sound like a long time? Well, once you get started, it's over in a flash, and, besides that, it's the amount of time necessary to spur your metabolism into burning plenty of fat and calories and give your heart a good workout. NOTE: If you're a beginner or have been sedentary for a while, start a walking program slowly, doing what you can without too much stress on your body. As you get stronger, increase your intensity gradually. 2. Go for the glow. Brisk walking makes you sweat, and with this increased perspiration toxins are excreted through the skin. Within a few weeks after starting a walking program, you'll definitely notice a more radiant, more clarified complexion. 3. Pump those arms. Don't just let your arms hang down by your sides as you walk, really swing and pump them. In addition to burning more calories and enabling you to walk faster, pumping will firm the pectoral muscles in your chest, giving it a more sculpted, rounded appearance. 4. A pelvic plus. With age (and childbirth) comes the tendency toward urinary incontinence. Walking will help to tighten the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic floor. Make sure to do your Kegel exercises or pelvic diaphragm contractions daily, as well. 5. Walking meditation. Your mind can be totally relaxed and void of all thought or clearly focused on a particular idea while you move along. I frequently carry a small pen and pad with me to jot down notes (ideas for my upcoming books). Walking can also be a time of spiritual renewal - especially if spent outdoors in a rather peaceful, tranquil location. 6. Climb that hill. Brisk, uphill walking, for a sustained period of time, expecially as part of your daily walking routine, can actually give you a better overall workout than jogging, running, or going to the gym for aerobics class. Walking uphill is your best bet for aerobic fat burning and anaerobic muscle conditioning. This activity will trim, tone, and lift your lower body, especially your posterior, in no time flat! 7. Mind your mood. Walking will improve your outlook on life, lift depression, and boost your self-esteem and confidence. The exercise-induced beta-endorphins that the brain releases during exercise will help lessen mood swings and bouts of anxiety. 8. Offset estrogen loss. With menopause comes the loss of heart-protecting estrogen, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular walking can raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL), lessening the risk of disease. 9. Improve foot health. Walking is the number one exercise for your feet as well as your body. It strengthens and stretches foot muscles, revs up the circulation to help keep your feet warm, and if your feet tend to swell, helps alleviate that problem, too. 10. Treat your feet. Low on your body's totem pole, your feet tend to suffer the added insult of neglect. Many of you rarely give a thought to all the force they absorb on your behalf! No matter whether you are a casual stroller or serious power walker, your feet take a beating. Constant neglect lays the groundwork for tough, callused heels and soles that can crack, hurt and become unsightly. I suggesting using a refreshing foot scrub thrice weekly and indulging your "dogs" in a good, long, relaxing, hot foot bath twice a week. Moisturize daily to keep dry skin at bay and be sure to keep toenails trimmed and tidy. NOTE: This article is by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician, Aromatherapist, and Herbalist. Portions of this article were adapted from one of her many books, "How To Feel Fabulous Today!", Storey Publishing 2001. The information is for educational purposes only.

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