April 7th is Walk to Work Day.  This is how it works.  Get up.  Walk to work.  Work.  Walk home.

Assuming you live to be 80, you will walk 177000 kilometres and take 216,262,500 steps to get there.  So, essentially, you will have made it just under halfway to the moon (385,000 kilometres total distance) or a little over 4 times around the globe (40000 km circumference).

In your lifetime, you will walk 177000 kilometers and have taken 216,262,500 steps to get there.

Walking has become a very popular item on the wellness and health lists of the world.  Canada even has a website and programs dedicated to it: Canada Walks!  The site not only embraces health, it also focuses on safety and enjoyment.

The health benefits derived from walking are many.

  • Strengthens the heart.
  • Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Prevents and controls high blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke by up to 27 percent.

According to Harvard Health Publications, walking is the “poster boy for moderate exercise” and it is not aerobic.  In the ‘70’s, aerobic exercise started to become all the rage.  Gasping participants jumped, ran, twisted and turned to boost their heart rates to as much as 85 percent of the maximum and try to sustain that pace for 20 to 60 minutes.

Ok, stop.  Just taking a breath.  Moving on.

What makes walking more appealing is that it is not as demanding and can be done for longer periods of time.  What Harvard refers to as “brisk walking” for a around 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, is a regime equivalent to an intense aerobic exercise like running for 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week.

Brisk walking for around 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is equivalent to running for 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week.

Apparently, a couple of millenniums ago, Hippocrates, probably after taking a long walk, said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine.”  Well, a couple of London scientists did some research between 1997 and 2007 and studied 460,000 walking participants.  Here’s what they found out (quoted from Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School).

  • Among 10,269 male graduates of Harvard College, walking at least nine miles a week was linked to a 22% lower death rate.
  • Among 44,452 male health professionals, walking at least 30 minutes a day was linked to an 18% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Among 72,488 female nurses, walking at least three hours a week was linked to a 35% lower risk of heart attack and cardiac death and a 34% lower risk of stroke.

Back to a comparison.  The basic difference between walking and running is the fact that when you run, you are airborne about half the time.  Coming down and hitting the ground produces three times the body weight.  That’s a lot of physical stress.  Canadian research on walking suggests that walking up and down stairs is twice as hard as walking on the level, but it is a good alternative or option, because there is practically no harsh impact on the body.

Let’s face it.  Walking is so much easier and you don’t need any fancy, special gear.  Just a good pair of walking shoes.  So, on April 7th, don’t just walk the talk; walk the walk.  Consider integrating walking as a more important, regular part of your physical life.  Pick different areas of your community or city.  Discover what is available through walkabouts.

Enjoy Walk To Work day.  It’s good for the sole and the soul.