There is no shortage of information online extolling the benefits of walking.
Virtually every prominent source of health information worldwide agrees that walking is one of the most effective, safest, cost-free exercises that can make a real difference in healthy aging.
So I won’t rehash here in detail all the proven benefits to body and mind that walking provides. A quick Google search can reveal tons of that information. I do feel compelled to include at least a quick list of those benefits and get this out of the way:
- Consistent walking…
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves balance and coordination
- Lessens the likelihood of falling
- Can help us lose weight
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and bone-related diseases like osteoarthritis
- Helps keep joints flexible
- Improves energy levels and stamina
- Reduces depression or anxiety
In other words, walking is just plain good for you! And it’s enjoyable! If possible, walk with someone and enjoy the company. Keep it simple. About 30 minutes of moderate walking is a good start. 30 minutes equals about 3000 steps or about a mile and a half (I use a cheap pedometer – it’s motivating to see the steps and distance in black and white). Do it as many days of the week as you can. Increase the distance as you feel comfortable. You’ll feel the difference after a few weeks.
What I would like to add to the conversation is connecting the benefits of walking to living an ageless life. Our definition of an ageless life is a life not defined by or confined by age or any point in time.
An ageless life is a state of mind.
It’s an attitude of DEFIANCE to not let anything – aches or pains, illness, grief, anger, future uncertainties, losses in physical or mental capabilities – prevent us from experiencing the fullness and meaning of these few precious years we are gifted on this planet.
So, given this point of view about living an ageless life, a prime directive in everyone’s life should be to seek out specific activities or actions that can help us along this journey. Just sitting on a couch watching TV or videos, while entertaining and diverting from our issues, is scarce help in defying nature’s incessant pull toward the uninvited effects of aging.
The human body works best when in motion – as does the human mind.
We are creatures of motion. In the first few years of life, motion helps wire up our brain to prepare us for the world to come.
That is the reason why loss of physical play in early-childhood education, using screens as babysitting tools and raising children in urban settings where physical play is difficult have bred generations who lost much in their early years. While we can’t get back all that we may have lost in those early years, we can, at any age, optimize our body and mind’s efficiency and capabilities by staying in motion.
Stillness, as noted in one of my previous posts, can be a powerful energizing tool when it temporarily and deliberately interrupts the noise and chaotic motion of modern life. But stillness is not the natural state. Motion is the natural state – moving forward toward goals, exercising our body and mind to make them more productive on our life journey – that is nature’s way of optimizing our capabilities to enjoy our brief time here on earth.
Defy the effects of aging every day.
Walking, at whatever speed, however far, given the structure of the human body and our innate mind/body connection, is the most natural, easiest activity we can employ to defy the effects of aging – every day. Walking is one of nature’s most fundamental gifts to humans to optimize every aspect of our life – if we only recognize it and embrace it.
Walking is a conscious act of defiance.
So walk for better health. Walk to feel better. But also walk as a conscious act of defiance. Living an ageless life is about defying anything that gets in our way to living our most productive, fulfilling, ever-aspiring life. All those benefits outlined earlier in this post are about overcoming barriers, obstructions or distractions from our journey to live an ageless life not defined or confined by our age or any point in time.
This may feel a little bit “new-agey” in perspective, but I truly believe it is the CONSCIOUS ACT of defying those barriers, obstructions or distractions that builds the ageless state of mind that is the ultimate goal.
Learn By Doing...
The renowned educational theorist John Dewey said that we Learn By Doing. Consciously taking action to overcome these barriers to an ageless life teaches us the productive power of doing more of it.
So better health and feeling better are not really the true goal. The true goal is optimizing our power to remove, push aside or move past those barriers, however we can, to keep our core focus on achieving an ageless, ever-aspiring state of mind – filling our life with optimism and forward-looking excitement. THAT is the ultimate goal – to live life to the fullest with an ageless state of mind.
Walking is one of the simplest, most powerful tools available to help us on our journey. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Make it an integral part of your life, and keep your eye on the true goal – a passionately ageless life!
Keep moving toward that goal!