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Walking: Miracle Medicine

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hat if someone discovered a fantastic medicine that treats and prevents diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and even cancer? Would you go to your doctor to get a prescription? What if you didn't have to go to the doctor to get the medicine, and didn't even need to drop by the pharmacy to pick it up? How much would it be worth to you, and how much would you pay? Wouldn't you make sure you took it and insist that your children and loved ones take it too? I surely would!

Well, that "medicine" has been discovered, and what's more, it has been shown to prolong life, improve mental ability, combat depression, and allow you to experience deeper emotional and spiritual connection when used in the appropriate doses. It is, however, not free even though you don't have to shell out big bucks to get it. The currency that you pay is time . . . and the medical miracle is walking.

Most of us know deep down that we should be more active . . . and what's a more natural activity than walking? What may be new to you is the extent of the benefits that even short bouts of walking (10 minutes, three times per day for 3 to 6 days per week) can bring. So let's look at a few.

Among North Americans diabetes is growing at epidemic rates. It's becoming hard to find somebody who doesn't know somebody with diabetes or doesn't have diabetes themselves. Evidence strongly indicates that walking reduces your risk of getting diabetes; and if you already have it, walking helps control it. October 1999 research showed that one hour per day of walking (even doing physically active housework) can give similar results as seen with more vigorous exercise, such as swimming or jogging. According to the Harvard researchers, what is important is the total amount of energy used in the activity--not necessarily how it is accomplished. Walking reduces your risk of diabetes by helping your body to use the natural anti-diabetes hormone, insulin, more efficiently and effectively.

Walking also helps you keep extra flab and pounds off. While it is unlikely that you will lose a great deal of weight by just walking a few minutes per day, the combination of a prudent adjustment to your food intake and food choices along with a walking plan can literally do wonders.

Walking, however, does not have just physical benefits. Many people walk for social, mental, and spiritual well-being, as well as for fitness. Many find that walking can lead to a deeper spiritual and religious life, and allows time for play and socializing that can be fund and healthy.

Walking increases the flow of the blood to the brain. Can you spend 45 minutes a day walking at a brisk pace (16 minutes per mile)? Research has shown that this time spent walking increases the thinking skills of people over age 60. With the brain functioning better, you are able to commune better with yourself and with the Creator.

Walking can also be a tool to connect you with God's nature. One author has suggested that as she walks, she takes the time to see the beauty about her in people she sees passing by or with whom she walks. She also appreciates the things others take for granted, such as the trees, flowers, small and not-so-small animals, or even the blue sky and the train.

Doctors and psychologists recognize that walking and other exercises can lead to the release of the "happy' chemicals called endorphins and enkephalins. Even people who walk at a slow rate can notice the change in mood. Regular walking can be used as therapy and has been recommended by physicians and therapists to relieve the pressure of life, since the experience of pressure is related to brain chemistry.

Walking has social aspects as well. Try it sometime! As you walk with your spouse, loved ones, and children, you can obtain lasting memories and tight family values, and you will have the opportunity to lay and connect in ways that are not possible sitting in front television. Taking a stroll after dinner and holding hands with the one you love can strengthen a strained relationship and enhance the social life.

Also, walking with a committed partner or friend can help you keep yourself motivated and reduce the habit of skipping out or overdoing. Today we have so many gadgets and gizmos that help to give us extra "free" time, but in our free time to become closer, we often overwork and entertain ourselves, much to our detriment. Developing a walking habit can cut through some of the clutter of the modern life.

While women seem to gravitate more naturally to social walking, men benefit too. A research study from Boston University published in August 2000 showed that men who walked briskly for two miles a day reduced their risk for sexual dysfunction. This was true whether men kept on exercising from their youth or took up exercising at middle age.

There it is . . . and it's all yours! Miracle medicine! You don't need a prescription. You don't even need the latest expensive or amazing exercise gadget that fills the airwaves on infomercials! All you need are two limbs to walk on, a good pair of walking shoes, and a safe place to walk. But nobody can do it for you! What are you waiting for?

 

 Reprinted from Vibrant Life Magazine . All rights reserved.

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