Why Walking is good for you – Dr Hugh Bethell of Alton writes -:
"The most effective way we can protect and enhance our good health is by taking regular exercise. There is no prescribable medication which is anywhere near as good at keeping us well. Indeed regular exercise is a highly effective treatment for most of the illnesses to which we are heir. The list of conditions which can be prevented or treated by physical activity is a long one indeed – obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, several forms of cancer, arthritis, falls and fractures. These are also the conditions which are most likely to make us unwell in later life, both lengthening the period of dependence as we grow older and ultimately reducing the duration of our lives. Taking exercise keeps us physically fit and increases both length of healthy life and total life span.
It is not only the body which is helped by exercise – the mind and spirit are also beneficiaries. Regular physical activity like walking reduces the risk of depression, dissipates stress, improves feelings of well being and helps ward off dementia. All of these advantages are also promoted by the social interactions of walking as part of a group. As Juvenal put it “a healthy mind in a healthy body.”
The Department of Health has recommended that we take at least 30 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise on 5 days of the week. For most of us the exercise to which we take most easily and with the most pleasure is walking. Here is a physical activity which promotes physical fitness with all its benefits, which allows views of the countryside and all its rural beauties, which can be a highly socialable activity and which costs nothing except the occasional pair of shoes. What could be better?
So get out there! Join with others in a group activity which you can enjoy and which can do more good for you than anything else you can think of – Walk for Health!"
Hugh was a GP in Alton and he founded the local cardiac rehabilitation centre, and is an enthusiast for the health benefits of all forms of exercise to help people maintain good health throughout their lives.