Health & Stress Management - Winter Walking!
I recently gave myself a new title: walking ambassador. It’s something I made up the other day while at the gym with a friend. We were preaching to folks to get out and walk every day on Thanksgiving break. Most people kind of sighed and rolled their eyes. But we were being serious! And I was surprised at the resistance from these people - we were AT the gym, after all.
It’s the time of year when the days are short, the sun is minimal, and we often feel cooped up. Plus, holidays are coming around and we tend to, well, to put it nicely, feast often and plentifully. So my simple solution to combat all of these problems is this: GET OUTSIDE AND WALK!
As a walking ambassador, my role includes preaching loudly and proudly about the benefits of simply going for a walk. You get to go outside, move your body, clear your mind, elevate your heart rate for cardiovascular benefits, and strengthen your whole body - arms, legs, and core! You can challenge yourself with walking up and down hills or stay on level ground. You can walk inside if it’s too icy or even walk in the pool if your joints don’t like the cold. The bottom line is, we live in Vermont and six months out of the year are pretty uncomfortably cold here. We can’t give up half a year without moving our body and maintaining the good health that we are all striving for!
I often talk to my patients, especially those with low back pain, about how movement typically helps us, especially walking. Our body craves movement, that’s what our ancestors had to do to survive and we were not designed to stay sedentary. Walking improves our muscular tone and flexibility. Some of our joints, particularly the knees, are better vascularized with weight-bearing exercises such as walking and this can actually improve our long-term joint health. There are exceptions, of course, and if you have any long-standing chronic health issues, consult your primary care provider before doing anything too rigorous.
So let’s get this winter season off to a good start! Strap on those boots or crampons too if it’s icy, and let’s get to work. I’m taking this walking ambassador role quite seriously!