Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Take a Walk!

I have been reading a book by Dr. Andrew Weil called "Spontaneous Healing" and I love the advice he gave. He said that you can increase your body's chance of experiencing spontaneous healing by giving it appropriate exercise and rest. But here's the part that I loved: Walking is the best kind of exercise you can get. You don't need to spend hours at the gym in order to be healthy. You can experience optimum health by simply taking a walk outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature.

Walking is what human beings were made to do. It is a complex behavior that requires our senses and motor skills to work together. Dr. Weil says: "When you walk, the movement of your limbs is cross-patterned; the right leg and the left arm move forward at the same time, then the left leg and the right arm. This type of movement generates electrical activity in the brain that has a harmonizing influence on the whole central nervous system -- a special benefit of walking that you do not necessarily get from other kinds of exercise."

Dr. Weil says a wise old doctor that he knows is a shining example of health in his 90's. He does not go to aerobics classes or use exercise machines; he walks. This same doctor often advises patients to crawl as a way of speeding recovery from injuries. When you go back to that simple movement, you help the nervous system move beyond any blocks.

The advantages of walking over other forms of exercise are numerous. You already know how to do it. It does not require any special equipment. It costs nothing. You can do it anywhere. The chance of injury is small. It is less boring than running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. You can do it outdoors. You can do it with friends.

Dr. Weil recommends working your way up to walking 45 minutes a day, covering 3 miles in that amount of time. If your heart and respiratory rate are not elevated at the end of the walk, you should walk faster or find long, gradual hills to climb.

As someone who hates to exercise, this is good news for me. I love going on walks with my husband, my kids, and my dog. And now I feel I can let go of the notion that in order for something to be "exercise", it has to be a structured, planned event. I can make the goal to go for a walk each day, or as often as I can, and know that I am giving my body a great workout that I actually enjoy!

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