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Wellness Walking

Walking 45 brisk minutes a day is quite simply the best practice I can imagine for a lifetime of health.

by Andrew Weil, MD. University of Arizona, USA.

If you begin a daily walking program today, you can expect to enjoy:

Longer life: A study of some 8,000 men published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that over 12 years, walking two miles a day dropped the risk of death by nearly 50 percent. Walking seems to be particularly protective against cancer. The walkers cut their risk of death from cancer during the study period by about 65 percent.
Lower weight. Several studies have shown that walking from 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day – roughly four to five miles – is highly effective as a means of weight loss.
A better brain. The National Council on Aging found that walking 45 minutes daily at a rather brisk 16-minute mile pace significantly boosted cognitive performance in people over age 60. Another study found that walking 40 minutes three times weekly slowed the normal, age-related shrinkage of the hippocampus. This part of the brain consolidates short-term memory and is one of the first regions to be damaged in those who have Alzheimer’s disease.
While walking is indeed a gentle, safe exercise, it should not be effortless. To derive real benefit, you should be able to cover about three miles in forty-five minutes – a brisk pace. You should breathe more quickly and notice a slightly elevated heart rate, but still be able to easily carry on a conversation.

Speaking of conversing, one of the best things about walking, as opposed to solitary workouts in a gym or violent team sports, is that it lends itself to sociability. I highly recommend walking with a companion whenever possible – two-legged and four-legged versions both appreciate the exercise and company.

So, walk, and enjoy the gentle gifts it offers, which can seem even sweeter as we grow older. At this point in my life, I have most assuredly seen enough drama. Now, a long, scenic, convivial walk is one of life’s great pleasures, and one I plan on pursuing for many years to come.


About the Author

Andrew Weil, M.D., is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit. Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, Dr. Weil is the founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, where he is also a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology. Dr. Weil received both his medical degree and his undergraduate AB degree in biology (botany) from Harvard University. Dr. Weil is an internationally-recognized expert for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle, his philosophy of healthy aging, and his critique of the future of medicine and health care. Approximately 10 million copies of Dr. Weil’s books have been sold, including Spontaneous Healing, 8 Weeks to Optimum Health, Eating Well for Optimum Health, The Healthy Kitchen, Healthy Aging, and Why Our Health Matters.


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