Walking: Why it’s so important

Importance of Walking

A leading doctor and concerned citizen has asked authorities to build more walkways in public places to encourage people to exercise and, in turn, decrease the rate of diseases and health problems in the country, Makkah daily reported.

Family doctor Dr. Saleh Al-Ansari said walking is not just about physical exercise, but it is a highly beneficial sport for intellectual growth and exercise as well.

“We must increase awareness in society especially now with the rise in obesity rates. The media plays a highly effective and influential role in the matter; schools and universities also play their part in raising awareness among the youth. The private sector also plays a role through its social corporate responsibility and its concern for its employees and while the private sector can sponsor awareness campaigns, what really needs to be done is to build more walkways. Sidewalks should also be fixed so people can use them too,” he was quoted as saying.

Dr. Al-Ansari went on to explain the many benefits of walking and urged people with obesity to take regular walks if they can’t exercise.

“Hippocrates himself said walking is the best medicine for humans. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche also mentioned that great ideas generate when walking. A very recent Stanford study proved that walking enhances creativity and innovation in thoughts and ideas. Exercise is not just for the obese, even healthy weight people have fat stored in their bodies from food that will only go away with exercise,” he added.

He advised people to walk between 30 and 60 minutes, 5 to 7 times a week. Kids, however, should exercise at least one hour a day. To maintain a healthy exercise schedule, Dr. Al-Ansari said people should increase their daily walking distance by no more than 10 percent every week. “The best time for walking is after Fajr prayer. The distance and speed of walking depends on gender and age group. There is a right way of exercising but the most important thing is to start at a comfortable speed and distance and gradually increase from there.”

According to a report in Agence France Presse, Dr. Rob Danoff, a member of the American Osteopathic Association, said sitting for long periods of time can prove particularly damaging to the health because sitting causes back pains and lax muscles which increase probability of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The American Health Institute revealed that an average American spends 7.7 hours a day with no exercise and 70 percent of American employees spend five hours sitting at their desks. The more hours you spend sitting the more the blood circulation is hindered. This, in turn, causes greater damage and health risks.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study showing that health risks increase by 15 percent for people who spend eight hours a day sitting and an increase by 40 percent for those who spend even longer hours sitting in comparison to those who spend less than four hours of their day sitting.

The American Medical Association recently urged the business sector to find better working solutions for their employees. Some of the solutions included elevated desks and inflated seats that promote ergonomic health and posture. However, Dr. Rob Danoff said standing, for too long is also unhealthy. Therefore, he proposed the following: Stand for one minute every 30 minutes, walk down the hallways, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk up to a colleague rather than sending an e-mail.

“There are many such simple solutions to the problem that do not require any advanced and expensive devices or technology,” he said.

 
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