Walking is the Best Medicine

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I just realized that I have not written anything about exercise. It’s strange, right? Well, exercise is really optional when it comes to weight loss. Don’t get me wrong. It can help tremendously but it’s not necessary. On the other hand, exercise can really improve overall health, and physique. So, what’s the deal with exercise? What’s the best one? Why do you read tons of different information on how to lose weight, gain muscle, and improve physique with different exercises? It’s because they all work. The trick is that they work for different individuals on different levels. For example, 3 sets of high rep weight lifting can be beneficial to everyone. However, it can be more beneficial to your friend than it is to you. This is because of our genetics. Some people have more fast-twitch muscle fibers than other; and some people have more slow-twitch muscle fibers. Unless you do genetic testing (such as 23andme), you, kind of, need to test yourself with different exercises to figure out which ones affect you more positively. In this process, recovering from exercise is also important and it can vary from person to person. Just to give an example, I have certain genes that cause me to recover slower than average people. This is why I do pay attention to my antioxidant intake and use recovery techniques such as foam rolling, cold shower and heat exposure on most days. I will get to all of the things I mentioned above, from foam rolling to weight lifting, from cold showers to muscle fiber types, in a future article. In this one, I want to write about the importance of walking and staying active.

As “Father of the Medicine” once said “Walking is the best medicine.” Hippocrates was right when he said that. Walking is probably the most under-prescribed and free form of health intervention for overall health and longevity. The magical 10.000 steps per day can result in amazing results ranging from fat loss to improved productivity. Now this does not mean that unless you hit 10.000 steps, you can’t benefit from walking. Every step counts. What is even better is that walking, in my opinion, is the best exercise that an overweight person can do. This low-intensity form of exercise is really easy on the joints like ankles and knees. The damage can be tremendous if are overweight and decide to run every day. Plus, running can increase hunger more than walking. So, by choosing walking over running, you can actually avoid overeating.

Walking can also increase creative thinking. Here at Arizona State University, I know one professor that I always see walking around the campus a few times a day. How do I know this? Because I walk around the campus a few times too. I am not going to name him (or her) but he does this every day (Okay it’s a “he” but that’s all I’m going to say). Another example is the engineers I see around my apartment complex. I live close to a company manufacturing facility called Compound Photonics. I see (almost every day) senior engineers walking around their facility. Now, I don’t know if they are creative or successful. But working as an engineer, still doing work at an older age, while walking around tells me that there is something to it.

Walking can also help with blood sugar regulation. I heard a lot of people saying that “if you walk X number of minutes after a meal, your blood sugar will not go as high.” The “X” in this case changes a lot. Some say 10 minutes is enough, and some say that it should be 30 minutes. What I do is that I try to walk for at least 10 minutes after my low-carb meals and walk for 20 minutes after a high-carb meal. I did some glucose test myself with a device and strips I bought from Amazon (you know, like the devices you prick your finger and squeeze out tiny amount of blood onto the strip). I did find that walking has a significant effect on my blood sugar response.

Killing two birds with one stone… If you walk outside, preferably sometime between 10 am and 2 pm, you can improve your Vitamin D levels. Optimal Vitamin-D status is crucial for hundreds of reasons such as optimal hormonal profile, bone health, and good metabolism. There are tons of people who are deficient in Vitamin-D because they are told that the sun will cause skin cancer. I’m not telling you to stay out under the sun for 5 hours naked. Simply, getting 20-40 minutes of sunlight between 10 am and 2 pm is usually enough. Lighter skin people can make enough Vitamin-D in 20 minutes. But, darker skin need to stay under the sun a little longer, hence 40 minutes. Interestingly, research shows that wearing sun glasses can prevent your skin to protect you from damaging effects of sunlight. The protein called, melanin, helps you get tanned. But wearing sunglasses can mess this up. I don’t remember the last time I wore a pair of sunglasses. My suggestion is that you should at least do this walking without sunglasses and actually see the world around you as it is.

Walking in nature is another bonus. Getting in touch with nature and exposing yourself to the Earth’s frequency can help you reduce stress and recover faster from other activities/surgery/illness tremendously. “Shinrin yoku” is a Japanese term for forest bathing. This idea is fairly simple. It only needs you to visit a natural area (preferably as far away from civilization, but safe!) and walk in a relaxed way. Its benefits are improved immune health, reduced blood pressure, reduced stress, improved sleep, faster recovery, improved focus and mood, increased energy throughout your day, etc. It’s crazy, right! Who would have thought that you can get tons of benefits by being in nature? Oh well! But it is true. Don’t you feel so much better when you go hiking in nature? That’s why I try to schedule hiking at least once every two weeks.

I can list tons of more reasons for you to start walking consciously. Park your car in a farther spot in the parking lot, take the stairs instead of elevator or escalator, include 10-minute walking after your meals, go inside the grocery store to do shopping instead of ordering online. These are simple changes to improve your health. Start walking and start today. I gotta go walk now!