Walking – The Fountain of Youth

by Jill Locantore on December 29, 2012

By
Dr Troy Long, MD
Internal Medicine
Kaiser Permanente

The intention of this short letter is to let you know why walking and the organization, WalkDenver, is so important to me.  First, as a primary care physician, most of the conditions I see daily can be helped by walking alone.  This simple and time tested activity is the fountain of youth.  My desire to help others walk more has made me focus on the ease of walking in our communities and then working it into our daily activities.  What I have found in WalkDenver is an organization that has a desire to make our communities easy to navigate on foot by changing the “built environment” to encourage walking to work, the grocery store or just to get the morning paper and coffee.  If, by making our neighborhoods safer, more pleasant and convenient, we can affect our citizens ability and desire to walk, we can make a big impact on the health of those same citizens.  This is my goal and vision for the future. Below I have given some brief suggestions as to the health benefits to walking.  Simply put, our bodies were designed to move and walking is the most natural and simplest way to get around in our world.   Sometimes it is hard to find the time to accomplish the exercise that walking provides.

In clinical practice, we use two basic criteria to see if we are moving enough.  First is:  are you getting 10,000 steps a day?  In my typical clinic day I will only get about 3,500 but my nurse will get over 8,000.  We both use pedometers to measure our steps nearly every day. The second way is by measuring the time we get physical activity.  The goal is 150 minutes weekly.  Most recommend 30 minutes 5 times a week but whether you get it in 5 or 30 minute increments is not that important.  It is more important to let physical activity match your schedule.  Some even walk in place while on the phone.   Intensity is important, however.  The simplest way to guide us is the “sing talk test”.  During optimal intensity you should be able to carry on a conversation but not sing a song.  If you can sing then you need to pick up the pace a bit.Regular physical activity can unlock vitality. Walking, running, and strength training can boost your immune system and mental function while lessening your risk for many ailments and diseases.  Staying fit can give you the confidence to say “no” to extra indulgences, such as desserts or excessive alcohol, and provides the means to burn off excess calories.  As the festivities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s take place, we can minimize the negative effects of stress, extra meals and lack of time just but making a few simple modifications to the holiday plans.

  • Pay it forward. When you expect to indulge in a large meal or party treats, take your walk ahead of time to boost your metabolism.
  • Invite the revelers. Ask others to go with you. Plan an after-dinner walk with guests or join a downtown stroll to kick off the season.
  • Make walking the focus. If you’re the party host or part of the planning committee, incorporate walking into the event. Try caroling, a winter scavenger hunt, or other games that will keep you moving and having fun.

And remember to get the 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, walking always does the trick.

 

Troy Long MD initially started his career with Conoco Inc. as a project engineer and made the transition to Internal Medicine seven years later.  He attended the University of Colorado for both Medical School and Residency, graduating in 2002.  Having a life long interest in physical fitness, he has brought that passion to both the exam room and local community.  Recently, he has initiated a program for Kaiser Permanente Colorado patients called “Exercise as a Vital Sign.” . The goal of this program is to encourage Coloradoans to move more, and to stress the importance of daily physical activity. Helping patients attain their highest level of physical fitness has become his passion.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Denver, Boulder, and southern Colorado area residents for more than 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to more than 533,000 members through 24 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians.

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