What do Paris, Rome, and Krakow all have in common? There are probably a few right answers to this question but the one that is the topic of this blog is, people walk, and they walk fast and tall. And yes, New York City should be added to this list. Outside of NYC it is much more the exception than the rule that people walk when referring to the general population in Canada and the U.S.
Before I delve into this I should set the stage as to what regular walking is. Let’s follow in the footsteps of a Parisian. By the time a day is done these shoes could have easily covered 3-5 km and that would not be all on the flat. Given that a lot of the old buildings and many of the metro stations do not have elevators or escalators readily available climbing and descending 10-20 flights a day is commonly the norm. And regular here means daily.
The benefits of regular walking are many and would require a book to thoroughly cover this topic. There is the usual list such as it is good for your heart, it helps to burn calories, it can alleviate stress….. While all of these are valid what follows elaborates on some benefits not so obviously appreciated.
Lets take osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The physical impact of the foot striking the ground is an integral part of the equation for helping to keep bones strong. To go one step further – mind the pun – studies have shown that supplements of certain nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium… along with walking and resistance training can even increase bone density in people who are osteoporotic.
A study (from the journal, Arthritis Research and Therapy: Norman Ng, 2010) reported that walking 30 minutes 3 times per week with glucosamine sulphate supplementation had better results than compared to the study group that just received the supplementation. In particular, the improvement noted was reduced pain and swelling as well as improved joint function. The people in this study had confirmed osteoarthritis of the hip and knee and were considered inactive.
Regular walking is also a superb way to help counter the postural strains so commonly linked with computer use. Even good posture if held too long is a strain on the body. The walking action of swinging your arms and legs along with the rotation that occurs in your spine effectively helps loosen contracted tight muscle throughout the body. In part it achieves this by improved blood flow. Walking also helps to lubricate joints which is crucial to keeping joints healthy. The cartilage which is the surface of joints does not have a blood supply to feed it nutrients. It gets it’s nutrients from the joint fluid, but only through the action of movement.
Walking is really an unsung hero. This simple activity that is deemed gentle to moderate and fairly low impact really reaps many benefits. Perhaps this simple activity helps to explain the ‘French Paradox’. So all that said why not put a little Paris in your day!