Today we see an enormous breakdown in the health system all over the world and I believe that the biggest contributing factor to this is the great reduction in walking in our day-to- day lives. Even people in the low economic strata can afford some form of transport and therefore walk less. Secondly, houses are smaller, flats are very small, compound spaces don’t exist and people don’t walk over to markets or neighbours homes. Even in offices people hardly move from their seats and working hours are much longer. So they are sitting longer. This problem starts very early in life today. Right from 5 year olds are sitting more. They spend 2-3 hrs daily in bus journeys to far away schools, then they are sitting in tuitions in the evenings, and later most time is spent at the computer or T.V instead of playing outside.
I would say let us as families make a resolution to go out and walk and play more. I work 9.30 – 5.30 daily but after work I take my 3 children aged 5, 10 and 13 and spend 30 minutes walking and jogging in a park. My husband who is a doctor drops the children to school at 8 am, walks for 20 minutes and then drives to work at 9 am. Where there is a will there is a way!!
The great thing is that even if you can’t make 45-minutes or an hour it does not matter, even 20-30 minutes can do wonders. The secret is the regularity. We have counselled people, aged 5-75, with not only obesity problems but even with weight gain problems, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, gastro- intestinal problems, etc. and in all cases, of all ages, we see that walking has the biggest influence in improving people’s lives and health.
Walking is a basic necessity for the human body. All the glands, organs and systems are keyed into action when you walk and the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is kept high if a regular 20-30 minutes, continuous walk is done daily. In the old days this happened naturally everyday as people went to their work and fields or even to a market but today it’s a rarity. Even busy housewives need a 20 minute continuous walk. It may even be done in a big hall, terrace or compound, up and down, but it must be done daily.
The biggest problem I see is that people start off very enthusiastically and keep it going for 2-3 months. Then suddenly they say, ‘oh! I am shifting my house so I will give the walk a break for 10 days’. They may start it again or may not for the next 3 months. Please note the BMR goes up when you have walked regularly for 3-4 weeks. One week of no walk and it drops very low. To get it up again you have to walk regularly for another 3-4 weeks. What a terrible waste and we see rapid weight gain and very harmful effects in lipid levels and blood sugar levels rising when you stop walking for even a week.
If pressed for time, just do 20 minutes daily the same way you brush your teeth and bathe no matter how busy you are. Compromise on other things but never on your walk. I had a weight problem for 28 years and have won the battle and the biggest secret of my success is regular Walking for at least 20- 30 minutes daily. Even if you are slim, fit and healthy the secret of upholding and maintaining this is to walk daily!!!