Walking

Walking in India

Staying active on a daily basis is one of the most essential components to preventing the onset of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. There is no more natural way to accomplish this goal than to walk whenever and wherever possible.

Human beings evolved as nomadic hunters and gatherers, a lifestyle that not only revolved around diets of fresh berries, nuts, green plants and protein-packed wild game, but also many miles of walking (and running to hunt down that antelope or mastodon!) every day. We were born to move (and to travel).

Walking is a form of aerobic exercise, and itself has several varieties, from a leisurely stroll to a brisk walk to speed walking. In walking, one foot remains on the ground at all times, as opposed to running and jogging, where both feet are off the ground between strides.

30-60 minutes of walking per day can have tremendous physical health benefits, from weight loss to muscle toning to disease prevention. A recent study suggested that calorie for calorie (the amount of energy expended), brisk walking is even more effective in preventing heart disease than running, while prevention of diabetes is statistically similar between the two aerobic exercises and very substantial.

As far as a number of steps to take, the minimum suggested walking time of 30 minutes per day equates to approximately 3,000 steps, but studies have shown that healthy adults around the world take between 4,000 and 18,000 steps per day, with 10,000 steps a good target for any healthy individual. When many of those steps are taken outdoors, the body and mind get several added benefits, including the best natural source of vitamin D, the Sun.

The benefits of walking are not purely physical. Walking helps limit stress and increase focus, creativity and cognitive function, especially when the walking is outside of an urban environment and occurs outdoors in nature. Stress itself has been linked to a range of ailments, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Taking the time to be mindful, whether through a walk in the woods, a visit to a park, martial arts, yoga, meditation, or countless other mindfulness exercises, helps to drastically reduce stress, promote happiness, ensure overall health and prevent and manage diseases such as diabetes. Walking lends itself perfectly to a healthful and mindful lifestyle.

Resources and Further Reading

News release about the benefits of walking, in comparison to running: 
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/05/brisk-walk-healthier-running-scientists

Some benefits of walking outdoors: 
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/six-surprising-scientific-facts-about-walking

Mental benefits of being in nature: 
http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182443

Detailed analysis of how much healthy people walk and should walk: 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197470/

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