Take a hike! -- Walking is hard to beat as a basic exercise

Friday, January 27, 2012

Greg Anderson, in his book"The 22 {Non-Negotiable} Laws of Wellness, announced something that could:

* Tone muscles

* Improve your figure and posture

* Increase your energy level

* Increase your heart and lung capacity

* Prevent loss of bone density

* Relieve stress

* Burn calories and decrease appetite

* Help avoid and recovery from injuries

* Help keep weight off

* Help reduce physical pain

* Brighten your mood

* Improve cognition

* Make you feel and look younger.

"If the pharmaceutical industry could bottle and sell a compound that would do all these things, the product would be hailed as the greatest wonder drug of the century," wrote Anderson, a noted cancer survivor, author of several books, speaker and consultant.

He was writing, of course, about physical activity, not a wonder drug. Anderson recommended walking as an exercise that most people can enjoy, but he goes beyond medical recommendations that it be done three times a week. Anderson says it should be done daily, because "if it isn't part of your daily life, chances are you won't exercise at all."

The City of McCook agrees with the author; the city has just received a $110,005 grant to extend the walking trail south from H Street, 1,198 feet southeast to East 11th Street. While it will take a couple of years to complete that section, it will make walking that much more of an attractive activity in McCook. The walking trail that has already been completed includes a number of exercise stations to work your other muscles while giving your legs a rest.

The walking trail has convenient"doggy bag" dispensers to make it easier for dog owners to clean up after their pets, and make the experience more pleasant for other trail users.

The McCook Humane Society probably agrees with Anderson as well, offering plenty of opportunities to exercise yourself as well as their dogs, either as a volunteer"walker" or as the happy owner of a new companion animal that requires regular outings.

The AARP also agrees, noting in a recent article that sitting too much may actually be more hazardous to your health than just the inactivity itself.

It also helps protect against memory loss and dementia, cuts the risk of heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults by as much as 60 percent.

The article offered a few more tips for walking:

* Start with short times and distances and increase slowly.

* Break up 30 minute walks into two 15-minute walks or three 10-minute walks.

* Pick walking instead of sitting activities.

* Walk indoors if you can't walk outdoors.

* Warm up with five minutes of slow walking, then walk briskly, then cool down with another five minutes at a slower pace.

* Get a good pair of walking shoes.

* Keep track of your time and distance on a daily log.

* Wear a pedometer, and make sure you take more than 5,000 steps a day; work your way up to 10,000 steps.

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