While I am a big fan of running, I also realize that running is not for everyone. Due to knee problems, my husband, for example, is not able to join in my running adventures. He makes a terrific spectator, though, and can ring a mean cow bell. For people like him, walking is the perfect way to keep moving.
I found this YouTube video by Dr. Mike Evans called “23 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” It is a very interesting video, about 10 minutes long but worth it. If you haven’t guessed it already, the “thing” is exercise – 30 minutes a day. According to Dr. Evans, walking is the ideal exercise. Walking (along with other lifestyle changes) helps deal with a number of maladies. Things like diabetes, knee arthritis, dementia and Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Best thing yet – it is free!
I shared the video with a couple of people last week and they all had the same reaction. They got up and went for a walk. I just hope they keep doing it.
For people who still want to earn a medal, there are Volksmarches. A Volksmarch is an organized, non-competitive 5K or 10K walk. Participants in Volksmarches are given medals or other commemorative items when they complete an event. There are Volksmarch clubs all over the world. Some clubs also organize hikes, bike rides, swimming and cross-country skiing events (collectively known as Volkssports).
My husband and I took up Volksmarching many years ago when he was recovering from ankle surgery. The low impact exercise was perfect to keep him moving and help him regain mobility in his ankle. Since we had recently moved, it was a great way to get to know our new home state. We traveled to local events as well as some in neighboring states. Going to a Volksmarch event was an excuse to get out and explore. I was reminded of the adventures we had when I came across my Volksmarch medals while cleaning out a closet. Looking at my collection of medals, I have to say that some rival marathon medals I have earned.
Walking is the Rodney Dangerfield of exercise – it gets no respect. People think that walking is a waste of time. Done properly, walking can reap huge health benefits. It is worth every moment you put into it. So grab your coat, put on your walking shoes and head out the door. Thirty minutes a day is all you need. Every step counts.
Interested in learning more about Volksmarches? You can visit the American Volkssport Association (ava.org) and the International Federation of Popular Sports (Internationaler Volkssportverband – IVV) web sites to find more information about Volkssport clubs and events in your area.
Another organization that promotes walking is the Freewalkers (freewalkers.org). This informal group organizes events and provides information to encourage walkers, such as training plans, checklists for walkers, and a useful guide on preventing blisters and dealing with them if you get one. They even organize international walking trips.