Ah yes, the last few days of December. Over the last few weeks, you’ve probably eaten a plate or two of shortbread cookies, enjoyed a few too many glasses of wine, had far too many late nights, and even with all the running around that comes with the season, done more sitting than you’d care to admit.
It’s no wonder millions of Canadians are busying themselves once again, making resolutions that next year they’ll take steps to be happier, healthier, and to do things a little differently.
If you’re among those “taking steps,” you may in fact have stumbled onto the very resolution that can serve you best of all. In fact, if every Canadian resolved to take more steps every day, we’d be a happier, healthier nation, and we’d save a bundle on health care costs. Perhaps the best part is that walking more requires no special equipment, no expensive gym membership, and can be done almost anywhere – even the pool. Walkers control their own workouts: distance, speed and terrain are up to each individual.
Because I’m always interested in getting the most from my workouts, including daily walks with my dog, it made sense for me to add Nordic walking poles to walking routine. Nordic walking burns 20-45% more calories than regular walking; engages arm, core and back muscles while building core strength; and engages 90% of the muscles in the body as opposed to 40% with regular walking.
But fret not, whether you walk with or without poles, taking more steps can add up to big gains in one’s health, happiness and overall well-being. It’s no wonder experts suggests it’s the single best thing most Canadians can do to improve their health, and that many physicians are handing out prescriptions for one of the most potent drugs available – exercise.
Strive to take at 10,000 or more steps per day, but remember that every step you take offers health benefits. Start slowly and ramp up gradually, there’s no shame in this approach. Once you’re out the door and on your way, consider challenging yourself with power walking intervals, hill walking, longer distances, poles, or a faster overall pace.
Research proves a commitment to regular walking can help:
- Prevent heart disease
- Reduce the risk of stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Manage stress
- Lead to better posture
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduce the risk of many cancers
- Boost bone density
- Improve our mental health
- Save us time and money
- Reduce vehicle congestion and emissions
- Give us more energy
- Reconnect us with nature
- Make us happier
New Year’s resolutions are most often broken within a few days to a few weeks. Why? Because the resolution or goal established, was unrealistic to begin with and most likely had no plan in place to enable its achievement. Why not keep it simple in 2016 – simply snap on a step counter or pedometer, lace up some shoes or pull on your winter boots, and go where your feet take you.
I wrote this article for Urban Poling, makers of the Nordic walking poles I so often use on my walks. To learn more about the benefits of Nordic walking, please read my article on Nordic walking here.