By Maceo Keeling –
Welcome to Asheville with its wonderful opportunities for health and wellness, particularly in our magnificent mountains!
Sound a bit weird for you, or a little too Asheville? Well, you can just … take a hike!
Everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability, can find a hike that offers the right level of personal challenge. Hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and being in nature ingrains our DNA.
The nice thing about hiking is that it exists along an entire continuum, from a gentle walk on a flat wooded path to strenuous mountain-climbing.
Countless studies and research have shown that regular exercise not only improves our overall health and fitness, but lengthens and improves the quality of our lives. Physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, and decreases the risk for colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also helps control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helps relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations and physician visits.
If hiking is too much, you can walk your way to fitness.
One of my favorite pastimes is walking downtown or along Haywood Road. You can burn up to as many as 125 calories per mile. Walk five miles, or 10,000 steps, and you’ve used up 625 calories—nearly one-sixth of a 3,500-calorie pound. Combine your walks with a healthy diet, and you could walk off one to two pounds—the safest rate of weight loss—per week.
So How Do You Do It?
One step at a time; physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. The more frequently you hike or walk, the greater the benefits.
Park a little farther from the office, or in the parking lot or at the grocery store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Mow the lawn, walk on your break, go out for a stroll with a friend or a date.
The bottom line is that there is no excuse not to do it! If you are walking already, pump it up! No treadmill necessary, the sidewalk works just fine, and every little bit helps.
Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything. No membership needed: you don’t have to buy a gym bag, invest in a bunch of sexy outfits, gear up.
In fact, all you need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Just make sure they fit right and are suited to the walk or hike you’re planning. No high-top sneakers for climbing Mt. Pisgah, and no heavy boots for a daily stroll around your neighborhood.
The longest walk begins and ends with one small step. So lace up, breathe deeply, stretch for a minute, and start moving; it’ll be the first steps on your journey to unbelievable health benefits.
Get started today.
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The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.