It seems like every time we turn on the TV or log in online, there is an advertisement in our face about the newest diet fad … and don’t get me started on all of the latest workout routines popping up that will “transform your life.” For the people that can jump on these bandwagons and get real results, I say, “You Rock! I hope you can maintain it!” but for the rest of us, there is a more realistic strategy.
In fact, there is one activity that almost all of us can do every day, no matter our income, age or fitness level. Can you guess what it is? I bet it’s something you are already doing on a daily basis—walking!
Walking every day has hugely positive implications on our overall health, and the list is pretty impressive. The best part is that you can attain all the great health benefits just from walking on a flat road or track, or even just using an in-home walking video (free videos sponsored by the American Heart Association are available on YouTube). Below are examples of just a few of the major benefits that come with walking 30 minutes to an hour daily.
After the birth of both of my boys I literally only had an extra 10 pounds to lose. Awesome, right!? But then, both times, I somehow gained another 15 to 20 pounds within the first six months following their births. I blame the hormonal shifts and the fact that my body does not function well when sleep deprived.
I’m sure having limited mobility after two C-sections didn’t exactly help the situation either. None the less, I had to find a way to lose the weight without doing anything that would compromise my ability to breastfeed or cause a potential threat to my still-healing abdominal wall.
So, what did I do? I walked every day! Both times I started out slow. I wouldn’t walk for distance in the beginning, instead I just did my best to walk for 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, without stopping. I literally had to rebuild my stamina.
Once I began feeling stronger, which admittedly took a few weeks, I started focusing on distance. I set my sights on walking for a mile, then two miles. After two months of walking every day, I was up to four miles daily, which took me an hour while pushing a stroller. At the end of the third month, I was doing five miles in an hour.
In doing this after my first pregnancy, I lost 20 lbs. in three months. I’ll admit that my diet was less than ideal back then, due to my rigorous work schedule. However, when I took on this regimen after my second was born, I was a stay-at-home mom and had time to be thoughtful about my diet and eat healthy meals throughout the day. After three months the second time around, I lost 30 lbs. and kept it off.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the US and a lot of people think it has to do with the extra sugar that is added to our foods. Another major part of this epidemic is that many people do not exercise on a daily basis. It’s a major issue and it is seriously impacting the baby boomers at this moment in time. But don’t stress!
Walking just 30 minutes a day is a great way to regulate your blood sugar. When you exercise, your body burns calories, and if there is any excess sugar in your body, it will be one of the first things used up for fuel. If you have the ability to walk for 30 minutes in the morning and then again in the evening, you will have better results as you are using up the excess sugar before it has time to really do any harm to your body systems.
This regulates your insulin production overall and many pre-diabetics and diabetes, insulin and non-insulin dependent, have been able to shake the threat of diabetes altogether just from taking daily walks! That is certainly something to put on your sneakers for!
Blood Pressure Reduction
Do you suffer from high blood pressure? Many times, high blood pressure and diabetes go hand in hand. Did you know that if you regulate your blood sugar it can immediately translate into lowering your blood pressure?
Cardiovascular disease is a very serious condition and impacts every part of your health. When your blood sugar is unregulated it can cause damage to your cardiovascular system and also makes it harder for your body to heal that damage. Pair this with the damage in your vessels that comes with high blood pressure and you have a one-two combo for bad health.
But you already know what to do: Start walking! Getting in that 30 minutes of walking can also regulate your blood pressure. Just take your time and do not worry about walking specific distances in a set time. Instead, just try walking at a leisurely pace for 30 minutes to get started.
Drink plenty of water as you move, and allow your body to relax. Deep breathing while you walk is great for reducing stress on the body and keeping your muscles oxygenated. Also keep in mind that mental and emotional stress can directly affect your blood pressure, but walking can help with that too!
Try focusing on being in the moment. Concentrating on your breathing and the air on your face is a great way to clear your mind. This is a proven means of stress relief that can make your body and spirit feel great within a matter of minutes.