By Vicke Quinlyn

Walking is as natural as the sunshine what could be easier, or simpler? …ever since the first toddling steps, celebrated by smiles and clapping lead into the steps we take everyday which we now take for granted. Yet the simple act of walking can actually lengthen and strengthen our lives. Our feet are always with us, so no extra equipment needed. Finding a place to walk is as easy as stepping out your front door, although there are some favorite places where I found many people walking; at the indoor mall, the outdoor mall, the beach, the city, and my favorite, out in nature.

Why is it so important to exercise daily? Obesity (especially in children), heart disease and depression are on the rise. Obesity leads to diabetes, and according to the American Diabetes Association, there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. Some of the amazing health benefits waiting for walkers is they will have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases. They live longer and get mental health and spiritual benefits.

At the beach Charlotte shared her secret to staying healthy and active at age 74,”I used to walk 3-5 miles almost everyday when I was in my 40s. As I have gotten older I have found that walking with my friend Rose (70), in the sand for about an hour 3 days a week and going to the gym to swim 2 days a week gives me plenty of exercise.” Rhonda (34) a mother of a young toddler had breast cancer a couple of years ago. She is now in remission.

Realizing the precious gift of life, and a desire to see her daughter grow up, Rhonda shares,” I have started incorporating walks almost everyday. Sharing my walks with my daughter is like seeing the world for the first time through her eyes. I want to make sure I experience a lot more ‘firsts’ with her. ”Ron (49) was on a hiking trail in Santa Barbara. As a therapist he said,” Coming out into nature helps to clear my mind and brings me into balance. I feel a great energy from all of the beautiful surroundings. I find it hard to ‘Go’ and exercise, but it is easy to just find a beautiful spot and pull over and walk.”

Every minute someone in America has a fatal heart attack. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and in most occidental countries. A great research is The American Heart Association explains that, “Cardiovascular disease includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Most heart and blood vessel problems develop over time and occur when your arteries develop atherosclerosis — a process that begins in childhood and involves a gradual buildup inside them called plaque inside the arteries.” Over time if the plaque blocks the flow of blood with in the artery or a piece breaks off and travels through the body it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In a world of drive-ups drive thru and a drive to push everything faster, it places a great deal of stress upon us to keep up. Trying to keep up leads to stress and depression can be debilitating. They lead our bodies to shut down. Affecting our sleep, appetite and the ability to concentrate or function successfully on a daily basis. Today more than ever Americans (and all human beings) need to take a new approach to health and find a simple way to get daily exercise. Walking as little as 30 minutes 5 times a week is one way to relieve stress which can lead to depression.

By oxygenating the blood and providing your brain and body with better circulation you will create a healthier mind, body and soul. Everybody can get into the act. There is more encouragment when you have walking buddies. The accountablitiy helps motivate you to suit up and show up. Families can begin walking regularly so their children can grow up with a healthy roll model that will serve them well the rest of their lives…if you train up a child.

In California there is something for everybody. From Mount Whitney to Death Valley, Big Sur to the Redwoods or it is as easy as opening your front door and putting one foot in front of the other. Doesn’t matter where you live, just go for the walking of life! Here are some recommendations: find a comfortable pair of shoes, drink plenty of water before and after your excursion, start off slowly as 10 to 15 minutes a day and gradually add 5 minutes each week until you have reached your desired amount of time for walking. Each time you walk it is important to warming up with some stretches before and after walking. It is simple, yet the health of a nation is at jeopardy if we do nothing. Begin walking today, for your health and the health of those around you.

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