If you ask your parents about the happiest memories they have had of their children growing up, the first answer to pop up would be ‘the time my child took his first step’. Every parent knows that the first step in a child’s life is a landmark event. Our parents witnessed the smile and the thrill radiated through our face and that was a joyous moment carved in their memories. As children, we stumble and topple a few times over till we can manage to walk confidently, without any support. And when we turn from crawlers to walkers, it brings together a sense of independence, productivity and exploration.
So what changed as we grew up?
Unlike how we started, we now dread to walk! Walking to our nearest supermarket to pick up essentials seems like a huge task. On the contrary, we subscribe to a gym membership and drive to the gym every morning. Shell out money so that we can walk on the treadmill indoors and drive back. When did such a joyous activity become so mechanical?
As a person, I find it difficult to slow down. I work out with great intensity, struggle hard to beat the clock and the daily pressure makes me do more work at a faster pace. It has only been recently that I have started appreciating the joy of slowing down.
I asked myself this – “When was the last time I stepped out of my house, without an agenda, without a destination to worry about, to just walk for no reason? Not trying to work out. Not going anywhere.” Sounds old-fashioned, right?
Morris and Hardman in 1997 quoted ‘Walking is the nearest activity to perfect exercise’. Now what is so perfect about walking, you may ask. So, I am going to break it down for you – the numerous benefits of walking:
- Keeps your heart healthy – According to a study by the Harvard Medical School, walking for just 2.5 hours a week, which is 21 minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease by 30%. Regular walking increases the performance of the heart, improves blood circulation and reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases.
- Keeps blood sugar under check – For people with type-2 diabetes, exercise is nearly as important as diet management and there are a handful of exercises as easy and convenient as walking. Walking improves your body’s ability to use insulin and lowers blood glucose levels. Walk off your stubborn high sugar levels after meals for better glycemic control.
- Counteracts the effects of weight promoting genes – Recently, a study conducted by the London School of Economics and Political Science put the spotlight on walking as one of the very best preventative measures for fighting off weight gain. Walking briskly for about 30 minutes a day has been co-related to having a lower body mass index and a smaller waistline.
- Helps with digestion – A quick walk around the block can help improve your digestion, reduce bloating or acidity due to over-eating and decreases the post-meal blood sugar spikes. So remember to ‘walk it off’ the next time you overeat instead of reaching out for your antacids.
- Boosts immune function – Are you one of those who start sneezing as soon as the weather changes a tiny bit? Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
- Improves mental health – Ever heard someone say ‘walk it out and talk it out’? A number of studies have found that it’s as effective as drugs for decreasing depression. It can help relieve everyday stresses, too. Mood-elevating endorphin levels increase. Many people say that walking helps clear the mind, too — you may even find the solution to a problem that’s been bugging you.
How to get started?
Here are a few handy tips to squeeze in that walking habit:
- Walk absolutely after the two main meals. If you are a busy person and walking after meals is difficult, I can give you a tip from the CEO of bon happetee “I schedule my phone calls after the lunch hour. That way the walks can also be made productive”.
- Walk while taking calls.
- Instead of keeping your water bottle on your workstation, walk up to the water cooler.
- Take a stroll after your meals to other departments and catch up with friends for 5 minutes.
- Walk to your gym if it is nearby, that sort of becomes your warm up as well.
- Take after-dinner walks to meet your friends and neighbours. Italians often indulge in passeggiata, that means a leisurely walk or stroll, especially one taken in the evening. Many Italians do it multiple times a day, typically after meals. You will see them enjoying the sunlight, catching up with neighbours, or reconnecting as a family after a long day.
Initially, you might forget or might want a reminder that prompts you to walk. No issues! Log in to bon happetee app. We send you notifications for regular walking. Also, we send reminders to walk if you have eaten (logged) a heavy meal, through our smart notifications feature.
Start with small steps, just like the time you tried walking the first time.
Akansha is the Founder, Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. She is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity & is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveller and a happy yogi.