We’re already two days into 2018… and if you haven’t put your list of New Year’s resolutions together yet, I have the perfect addition for you!
And if you stick to this one, it will give you a lot more than you bargained for.
It’s something you take… but it’s not a drug. Yet it can help control your blood sugar enough to prevent diabetes.
Taking it can be one of the best ways to control your blood pressure — as well as help relieve the pain of peripheral artery disease, especially if you’re diabetic!
On top of all that, it can have you thinking better, too — and, as some new research has shown, it might even help keep dementia at bay.
I’m talking about lacing up some comfy shoes and taking a daily walk.
Of course, knowing all these positive health effects of walking and actually putting it into action on a regular basis can be a whole different ballgame.
That’s why you also need to know about a very simple trick — one that will make it much more likely that you’ll still be sticking to your walking plan when next Christmas rolls around!
From your feet to your brain
With all the research being conducted on how to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s, it looks like one of the most basic activities you can do is the best way to protect your brain!
Researchers from the University of California recently completed a study that shows how daily walking can actually increase the areas of the brain that are linked to better cognitive function — in other words, improved thinking and memory.
They measured the steps of a group of men and women ranging in age from 61 to 88 for a week, putting them through a battery of tests to evaluate their memory and ability to process information and learn new skills. They also gave them MRIs to compare brain “thickness” (having a thicker brain in certain areas is known to be associated with better recall).
They found that the participants who walked the most — over 4,000 steps a day, which is around two miles — had the greatest benefits. They aced all the tests and showed those thicker brain regions associated with a better memory.
And remember, those benefits were found after only one week!
While that may sound like a lot of walking, don’t take your shoes off just yet! Because other studies have found that practically any amount you can do on a consistent basis will still significantly benefit your health.
- Two years ago, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine found that simply 10 minutes of walking could reverse the damage of reduced blood flow caused by sitting for an extended period of time.
- Over a decade ago the Diabetes Prevention Program discovered that, combined with some healthier eating habits, daily walking could slash your odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. And if you’re over 60, the protective power of walking cuts the risk of diabetes by a whopping 71 percent!
- If your blood pressure is elevated, walking can help that, too. Numerous studies have found that long, short, or in-between strolls are very effective ways to lower your blood- pressure readings.
Now, I know that if you suffer the agony of peripheral artery disease, or PAD, it may seem that a walking program is impossible.
But findings show that starting slow, stopping when the pain hits, and doing a little more each day is the best treatment you can give yourself. In fact, those with PAD who kept up with their walking plan for a mere six weeks were found to have up to a 300 percent improvement in how far they could walk without pain!
Of course, while you may start out with all good intentions… as you would with any other resolution… walking every day might seem like you’re biting off more than you can chew.
And that’s where this little “trick” can help: Get a walking buddy.
Even better, get more than one!
If someone else is counting on you, you’re much more likely to get out and walk instead of putting it off for another day.
Another way to make sure you get out every day is to adopt a pup. Take it from me — that’s a sure-fire way to get a true-blue walking partner who will never complain about the weather!
“A daily walk: Smart move for seniors’ brain health” Alan Mozes, December 27, 2017, HealthDay, consumer.healthday.com