Walking doesn’t get enough attention. In a world of high-energy, intense workout routines like Crossfit and extreme kayaking, the simple walk often gets left out of the spotlight. To too many people, walking is the Werther’s Original Candy of exercise: plain, unchallenging, and appealing to an unglamorous crowd.
Walking is a great exercise, though, and it has some benefits you’re unlikely to find in other places. Walkers understand that not all workouts have to be high-stress or high-impact. A walk is good for your body and mind. When you start walking, expect to see some of these changes in your life.
Walking will help you lose weight. If you get a brisk walk in for 40 minutes day, you’ll burn a significant amount of calories. Combined with healthy eating routine, walking can be one of the healthiest choices you make each week. And walking is easy. The low stress involved in a daily walk means that you can easily get into the habit. And it gets you off the couch.
Blood Sugar Control
For those of you who need to monitor your blood sugar closely, walking can be the perfect exercise. You’ll burn carbs at a reasonable pace, and—unlike with higher energy workouts—you won’t be in much danger of running your body into hypoglycemic levels (even if your blood sugar gets low, you’ll have to time to feel it coming and react). Of course, speak with your doctor ahead of time before beginning any exercise routine. People’s needs vary from person to person.
Walking helps you on the way to happiness and stability. When you walk, your brain increases production of chemicals associated with good feelings. Beyond chemistry, you’ll simply feel good when you get fresh air, focus on your surroundings, and get your heart rate up. Bonus points if you’re outside—walking in the outdoors, in the presence of trees, wildlife, and running water, imparts strong benefits on the brain.
Walking poses far fewer health risks than do other exercises. As long you stretch, wear good shoes, and pay attention to your body’s needs (and doctor’s orders), you’ll be at low risk for the problems associated with running, such as joint and bone strain, or higher tech exercise—even bicyclists need to watch out for car doors, debris in the roads, etc. As a walker, your likelihood of tripping over a surprise downed branch or struck by a vehicle is much lower than it would be if you were engaging in other exercises.
A Social Life
Walking has the potential to be a very social event. Social engagement is an integral part of your health, believe it or not, and your nightly walk can be an essential part of your social life. Walkers will tell you they have some of the best talks of their lives while out for strolls. Walkers tend to be thoughtful, introspective people with a lot to say. If you put together a walking group, you’ll develop important friendships. You might even strengthen your marriage if you and your spouse make a regular walk date.
Having healthy eyesight is one aspect of our lives that many of us take for granted. We rely so heavily on our eyesight every day that we can easily end up thinking about our vision as a part of our life that doesn’t need any special care. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some of us are blessed with perfect vision, and many of us need corrective lenses for 20/20 eyesight, but we can all benefit from some tips on keeping our most precious sense working at its best.
Give Your Eyes a Rest
You wouldn’t stand up all day if you could help it, right? The muscles in your legs would end up tired and sore. So why would you submit your eyes to the same treatment?
Looking at a computer screen all day can put a significant strain on your eyes if you don’t give them a break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every twenty minutes of screen time, take at least twenty seconds to look at an object twenty feet or more away from you.
This breaks up the periods of intense close-up focusing that your eyes are forced to do when you’re staring at a computer screen or even reading.
Getting a bad sunburn during the summer is painful and harmful to your skin, but think about what that same sun exposure is potentially doing to your eyes. Too much UV exposure from the sun can contribute to macular degeneration and cataracts as you age, so think about investing in a pair of sunglasses that have both UVA and UVB protection.
Feed Your Eyes
Eating a well-balanced diet is important in maintaining healthy eyesight. Just like the rest of your body, your eyes benefit from a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating well also helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your chances for type 2 diabetes—one of the leading causes of blindness in adults.
Just like eating well, smoking has an overall effect on your body, but in the opposite sense. You may not hear about smoking’s impact on vision as much as its other harmful effects, but smoking makes you more at risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
If you are a smoker, quitting immediately is the best thing to do, and if you’ve never picked up a cigarette, don’t start now!
It was only last year that the NHL made visors for hockey players mandatory, and we can’t help but wince at how long that took. Sports and work related eye injuries occur all the time, and never when you’re expecting them.
Stay safe and wear protective eyewear whenever you’re in an environment with a potential risk to your eyesight. After all, what’s more important—winning that pickup game or keeping your 20/20 vision?
Maintaining healthy eyesight isn’t the hardest thing in the world. It just takes a little thought and effort on your part. Your eyes give life to the world around you, so keep them in the best shape possible with just a few daily measures.
Emily Hunter crafts content on behalf of the LASIK eye surgeons at Eyecare 20/20. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, creates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen