clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

WALKING MAY BE THE CURE FOR MORE THAN PHYSICAL ILLS

"If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all," says Joey Adams.

"A generation ago most men who finished a day's work needed rest; now they need exercise," observes Bill Vaughan."As a nation we are dedicated to keeping physically fit - and parking as close to the stadium as possible."

"If it's too close to buckle your seatbelt, it's close enough to walk."

"A pedestrian is a man in danger of his life. A walker is a man in possession of his soul." emphasizes David McCord.

"Everywhere is in walking distance if you have the time," reflects Steven Wright.

An early morning walk is a blessing the whole day, adds Henry David Thoreau.

"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk," finishes Raymond Inman.

"Twenty years ago, it was an exercise in futility to tell Americans that if they wanted to feel good they needed to increase their level of physical activity. But a growing body of scientific evidence shows that physical fitness is an important key to good health," observes Carma Wadley. And walking is one of the most attractive forms of such exercise.

Donald Culross Pettie speaks of one of the advantages of walking: "I have often started off on a walk in the state called mad - mad in the sense of sore-headed, or mad with tedium or confusion. I have set forth dull, null and even thoroughly discouraged. But I never came back in such a frame of mind, and I never met a human being whose humor was not the better for a walk. It is the sovereign remedy for the hot-tempered and the low spirited."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, American essayist and physician adds: "In walking, the will and the muscles are so accustomed to working together and performing their task with so little expenditure of force that the intellect is left comparatively free."

Says Dr. Per-Olof Astrand of Sweden: "I find it very touching to see someone in the family out with the dog. `It's because the dog needs exercise,' is the explanation. I then try to emphasize that we are the animals who need regular exercise. So, go walk the dog, even if you don't have one."

Aaron Sussman and Ruth Goode finish, "Walking is the prescription that needs no gym. It is the prescription without medicine, the weight control with diet, the cosmetic found in no drugstore. It is the tranquilizer without a pill, the therapy with a psychoanalyst, the foundation of youth that is no legend. A walk is the vacation that does not cost a cent."

In an article called, "I've Rediscovered Walking," Colin Fletcher speaks of gaining some of the world's deepest pleasures, as simple as they are satisfying, in traveling by foot. He describes one of his first experiences, after he "shut his front door behind him, wriggled his shoulder blades beneath the straps of a light knapsack," and walked off down the road: "A quarter of a mile from my gate, I paused beside an old house that, through my windshield, had always looked a mere out-of-place relic. Now I read an inscription cut in its gray stonework and a new place of local history opened up for me.

On the edge of town, I leaned over a small bridge I'd driven across a hundred times and hardly noticed. Beneath the bridge gargled a creek. "As I watched, the cigar-shaped shadow of a fish slid downstream and blended with a stone."

"After a night under the stars in a sleeping bag, I walked most of the day in a wild hill country . . . and by the time I turned the key in my front door that evening, I felt at peace with the world. The problems that had blocked my horizons 48 hours earlier had shrunk to the molehills they really were."

It helps to have an objective, but reaching it is not essential. I have aimed for prominent landmarks, for villages I don't know, or for the seashore, a convenient two-day ramble from my home. Hilltops have an allure all their own. They widen your horizons, lift you above pettiness and reveal lines of action rarely glimpsed in the rack of everyday living.

In a stress-filled world, the psychological as well as physical benefits to walking (or other exercise) are legion, as illustrated in one research study by Kenneth Cooper, M.D., who found that women who get moderate doses of daily activity at least 30 minutes a day of walking, jogging, gardening, etc. - are half as likely as women to get little or no exercise to die from heart disease or cancer. Similar research studies have been conducted with men.

With respect to walking, experts give tips: 1. Wear shoes that are flexible, breathable and firm in the soul and heel cup; most walking, cross-training, hiking or jogging shoes are fine.

2. Walk every day if you can, but, if you're short on time, try to walk at least four times a week. Three brisk 10-minute walks, all taken the same day, are as good as one walk that's 30 minutes long.

3. Use stretch exercises of calf and achilles tendons, thigh and ankles, and perform lunges and exercises that shift weight back and forth from right to left forefoot. Stretch arms as well (see the March 14 issue of Woman's Day for a complete explanation of arm and leg stretches). End your walking with a minute or two of relaxed cool downs.