The Habit of Walking 1 mile a Day - The Best Medicine for a Healthy Happy Heart
Does walking one mile a day have any merit as a form of exercise? I’m so glad you asked! The short answer is yes, but wait..there’s more!
On January 1, 2018, a co-worker and I started what I thought was a 100-day challenge of walking one mile every day. 100 days turned into 200 days, and eventually 365. On January 1, 2019, I kept walking. February 14, 2019, will be, for me, day number 410 of walking one mile every day. No. Matter. What. (True story - I walked one mile in my pajamas late at night because it was a crazy day!)
I am now addicted to walking 1 mile every single day. It’s more than just a habit. It’s a way of life.
It’s a non-negotiable.
Creating exercise habits that become a way of life shouldn’t be an “extra” activity that you fit in when it’s convenient. Exercise should be a natural part of every day - a non-negotiable daily practice.
Daily. Yes, Daily.
Just like brushing and flossing your teeth (Hopefully you do that every day!) The research is in. Flossing your teeth every day and daily exercise are both heart-healthy practices. Let’s talk about the exercise part. This is where the daily mile comes in.
Countless studies have been done on the effects of walking on health, particularly heart health. In one study involving 70 women between the ages of 29 and 79, the women were given pedometers and asked to walk briskly for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, for 10 weeks. The effects of the 10 week walking program on their health were encouraging. Results showed a significant improvement in their heart disease risk factors (weight, body mass index and systolic blood pressure). Even a short term exercise program like this can have a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors.
The American Heart Association’s recommendations for heart health are in line with the findings of this and many other studies. The AHA recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise to help prevent heart disease. If you break that down, 150 minutes of exercise is about 21.5 minutes per day of consistent walking. You have time for that. You can spend 21.5 minutes a day walking now, or hours and hours sitting in medical waiting rooms to deal with heart issues later! We have a choice.
What if you already have a regular exercise routine? What if you’re already in good heart health condition? Can walking still have a positive impact on your heart health? Absolutely! A daily walk has a positive impact on your stress level and mood, which directly affects your heart.
If you’re overweight, a daily mile can help with weight loss.
If you don’t need to lose weight or improve health markers, a daily walk can be a good way to tap into some quiet time. Unplug. Go Zen and spend some time focusing on just the sound of your feet and your breath. That’s good for heart and soul health!
If you like to listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts, use your daily mile as a time to escape by plugging in and listening.
Desk job? Use 21.5 minutes of your lunchtime to walk.
Things to discuss with a co-worker? Head outside or around the office for a walk and talk.
Creativity stifled or stuck in a loop and don’t know what to do next? When in doubt walk it out.
Tension or emotional issues rising? Walk it out. (Exercise is a proven effective treatment for depression!)
Spend healthy quality time with your kids, spouse, parents, a friend or even just your dog by inviting them to join you on your walk. (They might balk at it the first time. Keep bugging them. Eventually, they’ll break down and join you, just to shut you up. True story. Hopefully, they’ll catch the mile-a-day addiction too!)
The list is endless as to when and why you should and can walk. No special memberships needed, no special equipment needed. You already have everything you need. Walking isn’t a frivolous extra, nor is it a waste of time. It’s proactive health care for your heart and soul.
So, go brush and floss your teeth, lace up your sneakers and head out for a walk.
Happy heart-healthy Valentine’s Day from your Elevate Sports Performance and Chiropractic family!