Saturday, March 22, 2014

Walking  Rejuvenates  Mind,  Body and  Soul, Improves functioning of Heart And Vessels, Improves not only coronary circulation but increases capacity and functioning of Brain, Improves capacity of Lungs and overall well-being’ - Dr. Ajay K Sinha, Famous Cardiologist & Associate Editor, Indian Heart Journal

It is, however, interesting to know what the Planning Commission of India says about the level of physical activity including walking of Indians, more particularly urban Indians. It says that 24% men and 34% women are engaged in inadequate physical activity (defined as 1-149 minutes of physical activity in a week). The inadequate physical activity in urban and rural areas is 39% and 27% respectively. High income group is by and large more physically inactive as compared to low income group for explicable reasons.

The other interesting news which is contributing to inadequate physical activity of average Indian is about gradual increase in use of motor vehicles to travel distances easily coverable by simple walking. A survey has indicated that 13% men and 15% women use vehicles for trips that could very well be covered on foot.

The other dimensions of using a four wheeler for short distances are more disturbing. A car journey of 1.6 km emits around twice as much Carbon Di Oxide (CO2) as the average emission of CO2 for the same kilo meter on longer journey. Moreover, increasing use of motor vehicle enhances the level of air pollution, which naturally has remarkable adverse impact on our health. Several studies clearly say that air pollution is harmful for all, more particularly for the health of children and elderly ones as a strong linkage has been found between the level of sulphur di oxide,   fossil fuel emissions etc. and risk of early deaths from heart disease and various respiratory illnesses. According to a report the air pollution level in New Delhi is going to cross the human endurance level. Even non-metropolitan cities like Patna, Ranchi, and Lucknow are having relatively high level of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the air.

It is, however pity that even educated people are either not fully aware of the benefits of simplest activity named walking or despite being all knowing they don’t walk even for 30 minutes a day. In both the cases, it is simply suicidal and unfortunate.

landscape avenue away Anybody can ask then, is there a miracle cure for preventing many major diseases? Study after study suggests that brisk walking is the answer. It is really good to know that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least half an hour a day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improve blood lipid profile, enhance mental well-being, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes, maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity. 

Medical evidences have also shown that walking helps to drain the lower legs of excess fluid and can help prevent varicose veins through pumping action of the calf muscles. Walking is also better for the spine than running, as it puts less stress on the discs. Not only this. Regular walking is excellent for spinal discs, which receive minerals and vitamins through the pumping action it causes. 

Moreover, people in general can walk at a consistent speed than run.  It is a more beneficial form of tissue-cleansing, particularly for elderly people, for whom jogging can actually cause more problems. Doctors say walking just an extra fifteen minutes a day can extend human life by more than three years; a recent study says that walking has a definite bearing on reduction of premature deaths by almost five per cent.

Since it’s easy to fit into everyday life, people who walk tend to keep it up. One of the reasons health experts across all countries of the world give walking such rave reviews is because it’s a complete Lifestyle Exercise. That does mean that you can usually make your time for it without too much of a change in your daily routine. In any case, finding time for maintaining regular walking habit even in between your busiest schedule should not be an issue at all. Nevertheless, it is desirable to decide the walking time, path etc. as per requirement of changing season to reap the full benefit.

And finally, another interesting information. During the course of our walking activity, our body releases the feel good chemical named serotonin. Getting active also releases feel-happy endorphin into the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. Studies have shown regular, moderate-intensity exercise including brisk walking to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression. A survey by the charity Mind found 83 per cent of people with mental health issues look to exercise to help lift their mood. 

It being so, it is all the more necessary not to delay such a beautiful and simple natural physical activity which can ensure us a healthier, happier and longer life.

As always, I'm keen to know what you think on this subject. Hence, request you to post comments to share your views and experiences.   

# Click here to enjoy my Blog in Hindi, "Chalte, Chalte" (चलते, चलते)  

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