August 7, 2012
Benefits of walking
Sonia D. loves reading Lifeline! She writes from Bull Bay, where she is spending some months visiting with relatives. Sonia is diabetic and overweight, but is losing weight and achieving better control of her blood sugar levels as she has been watching her food intake and exercising regularly. Sonia is "looking company" for her walking exercise at home in the mornings and asks Lifeline to help convince her relatives of the benefits of walking as most of them are also overweight. She really enjoys her early morning walks. Lifeline accepts the challenge!
It has been well documented over the years that walking reduces many health risks. Walking increases the body's metabolic rate and oxygenation. It produces good-feeling pheromones and improves an individual's self-image. It promotes a disciplined lifestyle.
Regular walking for exercise is also well documented as a method to help prevent and control heart disease. It does this by improving heart function, lowering blood cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure. Walking - and exercise in general - also helps with stress relief and improves muscle tone. Dramatic decreases in the risk for chronic diseases have been documented in individuals after only six weeks of exercise, with some additional dietary changes.
Moderate exercise such as walking 30 minutes daily has been documented to cut the risk of developing heart disease more than some well-used medications.
Regular exercise improves the function not only of the heart, but also of the lungs, the musculoskeletal system, the body's metabolic functions, and the brain. With this as a template, the ultimate benefit is a longer, healthier, more vigorous, and more productive life.
Exercise can also reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer, for example, breast cancer. One fact for sure is that exercise keeps cancer patients healthier during treatment and is associated with a longer survival rate in a healthier individual.
Diabetics benefit from exercise and from walking even if they don't lose weight. Studies show that even in the absence of weight loss, there is better control of the blood sugar with healthier outcomes, generally. Diabetics are significantly at risk for heart disease and the walking also tends to reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which also contribute to heart disease. The individual with diabetes who walks, or otherwise exercises, becomes a significantly healthier person! Exercise improves health outcomes for all sufferers of chronic diseases.
Exercise is also beneficial in pregnancy. The pregnant mother-to-be who exercises benefits by:
Helping to prevent gestational diabetes.
Helping to control weight gain
Experiencing less backache and constipation
Labour tending to be easier
Having a more speedy recovery from labour.
Exercise can improve sexual performance in both men and women. This is because the body is physically fitter, with better endurance capacity. The increased flow of blood during exercise improves peripheral blood flow and can enhance the erectile function. Note, however, that overtraining can reduce male testosterone levels and thus reduce desire and sexual function.
As people age, they tend to become fatter and less muscular. Exercise tends to reverse this trend, reducing fat, building muscle, and maintaining an adequate metabolic rate, which then tends to keep the body streamlined. Exercise helps the elderly keep their joints flexible, keeps them mobile, and helps maintain their balance. Falls resulting in hip fractures cause much suffering and death in older individuals.
Walking improves the mood and helps keep depression away. It is a time which many people use to pray, meditate, plan their lives. It is also an occasion when friends and family can share a good time together, catching up on events and discussing matters which need to be talked about and for which time can never be found.
Lifeline wishes Sonia D. good luck with her efforts to get her family on-board with walking. It is a worthwhile endeavour!
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