All the longest-lived people walk daily. Walking dramatically lowers your risk of all lifestyle disease; be it stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancers, heart disease, depression, stress, asthma, mental decline, diabetes or obesity. Walk, walk and then when you cannot walk anymore; walk some more. Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator. Climb two stairs at once instead of one. Walk every day or lose the ability to walk at all. A fit person of 70 is like an unfit person of 40. The life expectancy of someone in their 80s who walks daily is the same as someone in their 60s who doesn’t. Gentle daily walking is much more effective than strenuous gym workouts and is the best way to raise your energy levels. Target local hills, in fresh air and green surroundings.
The Wonders of Walking
Walking is simply the best way of preserving both mental and physical health in old age. Healthy people who walk just 10km a week have bigger brains and improved mental function. Even if you are older and experiencing signs of forgetfulness, walking even 5km a week slows the mental decline.
You become what you do every day. Take pleasure in physical activities. Find something you really enjoy doing and make it a daily habit. Park on the far side of the car park so you have to walk a little more (this lowers ‘parking stress’ as well). Making exercise second nature means it will become integrated into your way of life. Any gentle yet stimulating regular exercise that you enjoy, is beneficial; gardening, bike riding, swimming, soccer, skipping, roller skating…!
Benefits for the whole family
We have often woken on a Sunday morning and taken the kids up to Cornwall Park in Epsom, Auckland. We discovered all these great little nooks and crannies they loved, from climbing over huge rocks, to wading through bush, to passing the bow-and-arrow ranges to running after sheep, to finding wild rabbits (so cute!), jumping up the steps, to getting to the top of the statue and looking out over Auckland. Fun for the entire family! Bonding, healthy, sunlight, nature, exercise, disease-prevention, fitness-improving; there is no down side at all. We have climbed to the top of all the Auckland volcanoes and they are just amazing. The kids absolutely love it. You can always make your walking harder as well by targeting hills, improving your walk times by increasing your walking speed, lifting your arms high as you walk, carrying weights on your arms, legs or chest (as I do), or listening to music that gets faster and faster and keeping up with it. There are walks everywhere I go around the world – go and find the local ones near you and breathe in the fresh air! We love the Waitakere walks now that we are living out West.
The only difference between life and death is movement so do what the centenarians do and walk!
Jason wishes to deeply thank, acknowledge and recognise the effort and contribution that the PIF Foundation has provided on a voluntary basis since 2014, as we educated, motivated and inspired change that helps transform the health, vitality and longevity of people all over the world.