Walking helps trim waistline, curb diabetes

Walking helps trim waistline, curb diabetes

Walking still remains one of the best ways to have a healthy body. Sunday is World Health Day.

A recent nationwide report by GOQii, a preventive healthcare company, says that there has been a gradual increase in walking in all cities; from an earlier 22 per cent it has grown to 33 per cent.

It is a hat tip to our age-old wisdom that even with the prevalence of fancy gyms and futuristic exercising equipment, the humble act of walking is being recognised for its many health benefits.

“Walking is an excellent activity for people looking to get more active and it can be a great starting point for a more formal exercise program,” says Anjali Sareen, co-owner of The Zone Mind & Body Studio, who has been in the fitness and rehab field for over 25 years.

How does it help you?

Anjali says that walking can be appealing since it involves physical activity that takes you outdoors, allowing benefits for the mind and body. 

Anjali Sareen

“Working multiple muscles, cardiac endurance and strength, walking is considered as a total body workout. Primary muscles used are the back and core muscles which constitute the trunk muscles and lower body,” says Dr Sitaraman Sundaresan, chief physiotherapist and co-founder, Physio Be Fit.

Apart from strengthening one’s bones and muscles, walking also lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Dr Sowmya TJ, consultant – family medicine, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital adds that walking also helps in maintaining a healthy weight and prevents obesity, depression and osteoporosis. “A 25-minute brisk walk, done regularly, can add up to seven years to your lifespan,” she notes. 

How much should you walk?

Dr Sowmya says, “Adults aged between 19 to 64 years should do 150 minutes of brisk walking per week; along with two days of strength training exercises as it helps to strengthen the muscles and bones. Adults above 65 years should do at least 150 minutes light walking throughout the week as it helps to curb diabetes, prevent cancer and reduces the chance of physical disability.”

Anjali Sareen feels the quantum of walking is more dependent on a person’s fitness and ability rather than age. “An active person with good fitness levels would be able to walk much more than a younger but de-conditioned person. If you are recovering from an illness or injury, you would have to monitor the amount of walking you are doing. The speed of walking will also be dependent more on fitness levels than age,” she says. 

Make it fun

Dr Sitaraman suggests making the act of walking fun by going to places you enjoy, like a shopping centre or a park. It will be even more enjoyable if you have an exercise buddy to chat with. Loners can seek the company of their favourite songs.

But take care of these aspects...

From uneven footpaths to lack of dedicated walking zones in the city, there are many infrastructure-specific challenges that walkers face, points out Dr Sitaraman. 

It is no hidden fact that Bengaluru’s roads are killer traps for walkers. This can be made out from the fact that 44 per cent of those who died on the city’s roads in 2017 were pedestrians. Add to this narrow or decrepit footpaths and dangerous road crossings that turn into life-or-death encounters with vehicles and you know why many people still turn to vehicles even for very short commutes. Sitaraman adds the fear of dog bites and mugging to this dismal list of dangers to walkers.

Walking to work, though a healthy option, becomes a nightmare if the roads look like this.

If you are confident of making it out of this act alive, the next step is to focus on personal hazards like improper selection of footwear (which can cause increased load on the joints, leading to pain) and heat strokes.

“During summers, walkers need to be more careful about the time of the day and the clothing that they are going out in. It is important to stay hydrated, wear proper headgear and use adequate sunscreen,” adds Anjali.

Mahatma showed us the way quite early

He was quite a vocal proponent of the benefits of walking. Mahatma Gandhi, who shunned modern medicines even for high-risk ailments, was still quite healthy because of his simple diet and active lifestyle, according to his health records in a collectors’ edition book, Gandhi and Health @150, released recently by the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

It says that Gandhi walked around 18 km (22,500 steps) every day for over 40 years, and covered a total of 79,000 km for his campaigns between 1913 and 1948. “This is equivalent to walking around the Earth twice,” the journal notes. The World Health Organisation recommends walking 8,000-10,000 steps a day to stay healthy.

Bengaluru healthiest Indian city

The report by GOQii gives Bengaluru the tag of India’s healthiest city, followed by Delhi and Mumbai.

The surprising findings, published in the ‘India Fit Report 2019’, say that Bengalureans lead the healthiest lifestyle. Data indicates that they are the most rested, getting the longest amount of sleep in comparison to other cities at 6 hours 56 minutes on an average every day. Other healthy habits include being active and consuming enough water.

Mumbai is the most active city, mainly by its penchant for walking and running.