The phrase “Walking is man’s best medicine,” allegedly spoken by Hippocrates two millennia ago, is even more timely today. This fact is particularly true in industrialized societies where new technologies have not only changed the way we work but, even more profoundly, have also affected our life styles by reducing the physical effort of most of our daily activities.
Regular walking has a direct impact on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, by:
• reducing the risk of coronary disease and stroke,
• lowering blood pressure,
• reducing cholesterol levels in blood,
• increasing bone density, hence preventing osteoporosis,
• managing the negative effects of osteoarthritis, and
• easing back pain.
Regular walking also improves general health and longevity. According to the US Report of the Surgeon General, not only do walkers live longer but also the quality of their lives improves dramatically.
For more information about other benefits of regular walking, go to the website of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety
The Public Health Agency of Canada also provides motivation with their “Stairway to Health” Challenge. For example, they note that:
• Even two flights of stairs climbed per day can lead to 2.7 kg weight loss over one year (Brownell, Stunkard, and Albaum, 1980).
• There is a strong association between stair climbing and bone density, in post-menopausal women (Coupland et al. 1999).
• Stair climbing programs can improve the amount of ‘good cholesterol’ in the blood – HDL concentrations (Wallace and Neill, 2000).
Feeling competitive? Try challenging your unit to climb 19,541 ft. to the top of Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan – the equivalent of about 1,950 flights of stairs!