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Bone Series, Part 5: Walking Builds Bones

[This is my edited version of the weekly email update from Vivian Goldschmidt, Founder of the Save Institute.]

Walking, jogging, and running are weight-bearing activities that build and strengthen your bones. The current recommendation from the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.

Get the Most from Walking

1.  Rather than avoiding hills and climbs, seek them out. Step on and off the curb, climb that hill or slope, and hop up and down steps if you’re able to do so safely.

2.  Make it a point to be aware of your body as you walk. Pay attention to your arms, shoulders, and core. Elbows should be bent, shoulders should be relaxed, and your core engaged; to do this, lightly pull your belly button inward, making sure it does not interfere with your breathing.

3.  Move your arms naturally, with your right arm coming forward at the same time as your left foot steps forward, and vice versa. Bend your elbows at an approximately 90-degree angle, relaxing your shoulders.

4.  Seek out a “green” setting for your walks wherever and whenever you can, adding sun exposure and natural surroundings that boost mood and release tension.

5.  If you’re walking a dog, place the end of the leash in your right hand, let the leash cross your body, and have your dog on your left side. In your left hand, hold the leash about halfway down.

6.  Vary your pace; walk at intervals for a more effective workout—e.g., try walking at a brisk, fast pace for three minutes followed by three minutes at a slower pace. Repeat these intervals for the entire walk. Try working intervals into your walks at least twice a week.

7.  Take your walks seriously by setting goals and challenging yourself, whether it’s pace, distance, or another factor that increases how vigorous the activity is.

Is Running Better Than Walking?

No.  A study published in 2013 showed essentially the same health benefits from walking as running. Researchers determined that both runners and walkers enjoyed the same benefits:

  • Reduced risk of hypertension
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Lower risk for diabetes
  • Decreased risk of developing coronary artery disease

Running and walking have essentially the same benefits, but running is more efficient. That means you have to walk for longer to get the same benefits as you would get from running. Both activities reduce the risks listed above.

Benefits of Walking

Walking can help you handle stress, improve your concentration, extend your life, and ameliorate the effects of depression. And because it’s a weight-bearing activity, it’s also recommended in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program to build and maintain bone mass.

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I walk a mile a day practicing “head back, shoulders down, tighten my core, and lead with my hips” to mitigate the “forward head movement” I’ve had since I was a child.  I look forward to incorporating #3 and #6 of Goldschmidt’s ideas.

Till next time,

Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi

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