The Tribune - Spectrum

, June 16, 2002

Walk: Benefits are a step away
I.M. Soni

WALK and be healthy: walk and be happy, has sound health sense in it. The best way to lengthen our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose. The art of self-propulsion is the secret of life and vitality.

Financial strain, personal conflicts, sexual dysfunction, noise, distressing relationships are some of the conditions that stress many today.

The individual burdened with conflicts in the home, or at the workplace, tightens his muscles, speeds up the heart rate, and increases the blood pressure without being aware of what he is doing. If the stressful situation remains unresolved for long, the end result is fatigue, irritability and depression.

There is an enjoyable, healthful way to bring rhythm back to the body when imbalance occurs. Walking goes a long way in eliminating it and in reducing tension.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I think I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements".


"Unhappy businessmen," declared Bertrand Russell, "would increase their happiness more by walking six miles a day than any conceivable change of philosophy,"

Dr. Fred A. Stutman, author of the Doctor’s Walking Book states: "One simple, healthy way of dealing with stress is simply to get out of your office and walk the tension away."

Dr. Herbert de Vries of the University of Southern California, conducted a study with a group of men 50 years or older, all of whom suffered from migraine headaches. After a week of regular workouts their headaches disappeared.

In another experiment, he found that a 15-minute walk were more effective than sedatives in reducing tension.

How does walking help?

The part of the brain that enables us to walk lies near the part of the brain that deals with the association process, thought, and feeling. The proximity of the two means that walking has a parallel effect on thinking and feeling.

An increased oxygen supply and reduced carbon-dioxide in the blood are two changes that occur while walking. The increased oxygen supply improves our thinking ability and memory, lengthens concentration and sharpens clarity of thought.

William Wordsworth poet, walked miles in meadows and valleys to spur his creativity. Poet Rabindranath Tagore spend hours in Santiniketan strolling in the sun and the shade of trees.

Studies also indicate that walking appears to have a mood elevating effect and tends to give a sense of well-being. It has a far-reaching effect on our physical and emotional well-being. It is a step towards an improved, healthy being.

Here are some hints for a fruitful walking regime.

Keep your head high, spine straight, and arms relaxed and swinging.

Each step should find your heel touching the ground first, then rolling your weight towards your toes. This avoids leg, foot, and other problems.

Breathe easily and naturally through nostrils. Assume a comfortable stride.

Attempting too much too soon can be counter-productive. The average walking speed is about five kilometres an hour on level ground.

The greatest advantage is that walking needs no club, no special aids. The equipment you need is minimal. Any outfit that is comfortable and allows you freedom of movement is apt. Proper walking shoes, however, facilitate your movement.

Discomfort indicates that walking needs re-adjustment. Everyone’s body is different. One must correspond this programme to one’s particular needs and demands. It is better to be yourself. Avoid imitating others.

Walking is a positive remedy for stress.

The voyage on two feet will not fetch an America but you will discover a better you.

Step out. The benefits are only a few steps away!

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