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அழகி மென்பொருள்
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Benefits of Walking

Courtesy: Vijayaragavan, Chennai

If a daily fitness walk could be put in a pill, it would be one of the most popular prescriptions in the world. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases — from heart attack and stroke to hip fracture and glaucoma. Sounds like claims on a bottle of snake oil? Don’t worry, they’re backed by major research. Walking requires no prescription, the risk of side effects is very low, and the benefits are numerous:

Downsizing. To get rid of unwanted kilos, all you need are your own legs, some comfortable shoes, and a little open space. Combined with healthy eating, physical activity is key to long-lasting weight control. As an added incentive, you get to lower your risks of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnoea, and osteoarthritis. It strengthens muscles, which tones and shapes your body, thus boosting your metabolism. And you don't have to do it all in one go. Find pockets of time through the day for short jaunts. It need not be hard, just steady. It's simple, enjoyable, and a good weapon in the battle against bulge.

Walk to sleep. Walking helps you sleep better so you wake up energised and ready for the day. Take a short stroll before and after dinner. This helps soothe your nerves while burning calories. The use of energy combined with the stress-release relaxes your body and mind, helping you sleep better and longer. On restless nights, instead of turning on the TV, get up and pace around the house. Take in deep breaths as you move. Shake out arms and legs. Stretch out your neck. When you climb back into bed, you'll feel more prepared for a healthy trip into dreamland.

Give your brain a power boost! You lace up your walking shoes, stretch, and set out on a brisk walk…all with the goal of being fit and healthy. Did you know that walking helps you think more clearly, make better decisions, solve problems and concentrate? Even small doses of walking, like a 15-minute trek, can increase your brain power. To top it all, the mental perks continue long after your body has cooled down.

Strength in every step. It's a fact of life. With age, our bones lose density and our muscles weaken. Walking is a proven method for boosting strength. At a brisk pace, it helps control the effects of ageing on bones and muscles. How? It gets your heart pumping and sends oxygen through the body, strengthens heart and the muscle groups responsible for movement, as well as your bones and joints. It's low impact, so even a rapid pace rarely causes strain or injury to knees, ankles, back, or hips.

Boosts HDL. Walking improves the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), known as "good" cholesterol. And it helps reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) in the blood, which can cause plaque buildup along the artery walls — a major cause of heart attacks.

Avoid gallstone surgery. Regular walking or other physical activity lowers the risk of needing gallstone surgery by 20% to 31%, found a Harvard study of more than 60,000 women of ages 40 to 65.

The advantages go on and on. Studies indicate a daily brisk walk also help prevent depression, colon cancer, constipation, osteoporosis, and impotence; lengthen lifespan; lower stress levels; relieve arthritis and back pain; and elevate the overall mood and sense of well-being.

Keep it Steady

A steady routine is the most important factor in getting the most out of your exercise programme. Walking for 30 minutes, 5 times a week is recommended.

Use these tips to keep you on track:

Watch your posture. Walk tall. Think of elongating your body. Hold your head up and eyes forward. Your shoulders should be down, back and relaxed. Tighten your abdominal muscles and buttocks and fall into a natural stride. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after walking. Incorporate a warm up, cool down and stretches into your routine.

Start your walk at a slow warm up pace, stop and do a few flexibilty drills. Then walk for the desired length of time. End your walk with the slower cool down pace and stretch well after your walk. Stretching will make you feel great and assist in injury prevention.

During your walks, you should be able to maintain a conversation. If you’re breathing too lightly, increase your pace. If you can’t catch your breath, slow it down.

Walk around the local area after lunch or dedicate 15 minutes to walking up and down stairs. Climbing is an excellent way to strengthen your heart.

At night, trade a half hour of TV for a brisk stroll around the block. Take a friend with you for company or get the whole family involved.

Remember, walking is a simple, inexpensive activity that requires nothing more than a pair of good walking shoes and an open mind. It gives you all the benefits of other forms of recreation. So instead of taking your shoes off to relax, put them on. Go for a walk to turn your exercise into fun.

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