03 May It only takes 1.7% of your time to improve your health!
One sunny spring day several years ago, I decided to go for a leisurely walk by myself around the neighbourhood. I was your typical busy working mother of three children, and despite being a naturopath found that I had time to care for everybody but myself. This was “exercise” and I was actually having fun . The birds were chirping, tulips were blooming, it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. So I started thinking about my patients and how even my own lifestyle had become so much more sedentary as I took on the responsibilities of having family. I often tell my patients to start with just three half hour walks a week and that it would be enough for me to measure benefits in their heart, body composition and stress levels. So I started calculating……30 minute walk, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. It only takes 1.7% of your time to start improving your health!
This became a wake-up call and turning point that I often share with patients to motivate them to start and maintain a lifestyle change. At first there was some resentment to realize I was giving away 100% of myself, then I took ownership and realized it was because I had allowed it. Never again would there be enough excuses to lose the last 1.7% of my time to preserve my own health.
1.7% is simply a starting point for sedentary people, but it is measurable as a benefit on various naturopathic health assessments, even if the walks are done in 10 minute segments. Ideally, you would want to increase to daily walking, vary the speed (interval walking), use Nordic Poles, or walk on hills. The important point is that you start somewhere, and build your fitness level from there.
The health benefits of walking are numerous, including the following:
- Heart health – less chance of stroke, heart attack, blood pressure, and better HDL (good cholesterol)
- Body composition- slimmer body with more muscle and less fat
- Stress reduction
- Diabetes reduction – improves muscle response to insulin
- Memory improves – stimulates brain to make neurons and blood vessels
- Bones – weight bearing activities benefit bone density
- Vitamin D levels increase if you walk outside
- Cancer prevention from increasing physical activity
- Energy increases
- Mood increases – less anxiety and depression
I have since become an avid walker and started a community walking club at my clinic. What better way to get healthy than to go for a walk with my patients, neighbours or friends? Our walking schedule is posted on the Bronte Natural Health Clinic Facebook page.