By Lynn Difley
We are taking a two-week holiday in England, staying in a converted barn and enjoying tramping around the Cotswolds. Today we visited a village that is popular with tourists and I was delighted at the number of senior citizens enjoying the scenery. We saw tour buses unload vast numbers of the silver haired tourists. The people walked up and down, enjoying the shops, the tea houses, chatting and enjoying the countryside.
These people, no matter age or infirmity were walking. Many of them used walkers or canes, the pace of some were slow, but all were ambulating, and it was obvious that they were used to walking as a way of getting from one place to another. Shocking to Americans, who regard cars as the only acceptable means of transportation. Here in Britain, walking is a way of life.
People walk in the morning, to ‘stir their stumps.” People walk down to the greengrocers to purchase fresh vegetables. People walk down to the post office, then down to get a newspaper, then home for lunch. In the afternoon, many walk down to the local tea house, for a cuppa and a conversation with friends. After supper, its time for evening “walkies”, to settle the meal before sleep. You get the picture.
These people walk all over the place, all the time. You probably know that walking can slow the aging process and keep you feeling great. Here are just a few of the ways walking can enhance your life:
- Cardiovascular/heart health. Instead of the natural weakening of the cardiovascular system, you can strengthen your heart by walking to get it pumping. People who exercise just 30 minutes a day, three times a week, slow the general decline in heart health.
- Strong muscles and bones. As we age, our muscles and bones tend to weaken, leaving us vulnerable to osteoporosis or arthritis. Walking can keep you mobile and flexible.
- Positive Mind: Walking is an escape from mental stress, and instills an optimistic outlook, which keeps you from feeling depressed or anxious.
- A positive attitude, stimulated by exercise improves the immune system.
So why not imitate the Brits and start to walk on a regular basis. Even if you only start with 10 to 15 minutes, you will be gaining tremendous benefit. Start small, and then gradually work your way up. Make walking a social event; grab a friend, or loved one to walk with you. Investigate a variety of walks, get to know your neighborhood, campground and nearby sights on foot. Run your errands on foot, if you only need a newspaper and quart of milk, walk to the store and back. Try a morning walk, if you’re not an early person, try a noon walk, or an afternoon stroll, or an after dinner amble. Any time of day, a walk will do you good.