In early October 2013, my travels took me back to beautiful Kailua-Kona Hawaii and the sports medicine conference I chair each year that is held in conjunction with the Ironman Triathlon World Championships. The focus of this conference is always on sports and exercise medicine and we host over 200 physicians and other healthcare practitioners from around the world, representing a wide range of disciplines. As always, this is my favorite week of the year because it gives me a chance to hear great speakers in a beautiful setting and exercise every day.
Some of the highlight from a host of amazing talks given this year included a talk on the importance of walking for weight loss. It seems the obesity epidemic that has developed over the past 50 plus years in America can be directly linked to decreasing the amount of physical activity we do at work. Since most Americans are not getting much exercise at work anymore, it is now even more important that Every Body Walk! And while it is essential that we lower calorie intake to lose weight, studies show that daily walking is essential to keeping the lost weight off.
Another talk this year highlighted the effect of regular walking on quality of life. Studies show that regular walking can help you maintain a much higher functional capacity as you age, so that you are able to continue doing all the things you did when you were younger. You may have heard that 50 is the new 30? Well that only applies to people who get out and walk every day! To me a better functional capacity is an even more compelling reason to walk every day than living longer. I for one would chose quality of years over quantity of years, but walking gives you both!
While I was in Kona I of course got in a lot of walking, but I also took the chance to swim every day as well. There is no better place to swim than Hawaii, with crystal clear 80 degree water and lots of fish and coral to look at. So even though this blog is mostly about walking, I want to emphasize that there are lots of other forms of exercise that provide the same health benefits as walking, and swimming is one of them. In fact, one of the talks at this year’s meeting highlighted the tremendous health benefits from resistance training. It seems that lifting weights may be just as good as walking for lowering mortality and preventing disease.
So it doesn’t seem to matter which form of exercise you choose, as long as you do something each day. In my mind however, walking is the best exercise to promote across America because most anyone can do it, any time of the day, anywhere, and at no cost. So that is why we launched this campaign to get America walking.
Thanks for reading this blog and for doing your part to make sure that Every Body Walks.