The Health Benefits of Walking

health benefits of walkingFrom limited free time to sore joints, it’s easy to find yourself discouraged when it comes to daily exercise. The good news? There are plenty of low-impact options that don’t require an expensive gym membership. In fact, one of the best ways to kick-start weight loss and fight associated diseases like depression and diabetes is one of the simplest: walking.

What Can Walking Do For Me?

The real question is what can’t walking do. From heart health to lower blood pressure and regulated blood sugar, walking is a great way to benefit all systems of the body. A brisk walk taken daily (or even just a few times a week) is shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as breast and colon cancer.

Walking is an easy, cost-free investment in your overall health. Not only does walking extend your lifespan by keeping chronic diseases at bay, but it also improves your quality of life: walking is a great way to trim your waist (and tone those calves, if you throw in a few hills) so you’ll feel strong and confident. The daily dose of Vitamin D that you’ll get from walking outdoors—as well as the rush of feel-good endorphins—is shown to be an effective antidepressant.

Walking and Weight Loss

Complicated workout plans are notoriously difficult to stick with. Walking at a moderate pace, however, is often enjoyable for most people, which means that it’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Whether you’re walking solo or with a group (don’t forget your favorite pet!), 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week provides the aerobic exercise you need to help maintain your goal weight. Walking is especially beneficial for patients recovering from bariatric surgery, since it’s a low-impact, self-directed activity that lets you go at your own pace.

Getting Into a Routine

When you’re walking for fitness, you’ll get maximum benefits if you pay a little extra attention to your posture. Engage your core by standing up tall and looking straight ahead, and minimize impact by walking smoothly, rolling from heel to toe. Pumping your arms just slightly will keep those muscles toned, while choosing a few hills is great, low-impact form of strength training. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to work your way up to the recommended 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Just remember that, no matter where you start, the most important thing is that you do start.

Dr. Dirk’s weight-loss patients are often advised to embrace walking as an enjoyable way to keep weight off post-surgery. Whether you’re looking for lakeside trails or you march right through the center of town, incorporate the things you love into your daily walks to ensure that you stick with your regimen.


The Solution to Fat Stigma and Bullying

bullying

As fall approaches and the kids are going back to school, first-day jitters abound for students everywhere. One thing kids shouldn’t have to worry about? Bullying. Unfortunately, as schools and administrators battle bullies, kids and teens remain susceptible to hurtful or aggressive behavior from other students.

Sadly, the primary reason kids are targeted in schools is obesity or weight-related issues. Before sensitive issues like sexual orientation, academic performance or ethnicity, childhood weight problems rank as the most common motive for bullies.

While weight-based biases are often more pronounced in affluent communities where an ultra-thin physique is most valued, it seems that “fat stigma” is almost universal among developed countries. The community at large often attributes weight-gain to voluntary lifestyle choices rather than a medical condition, and the underlying belief that obese people choose their weight seems to justify poor treatment and discrimination. In fact, some believe that discrimination will act as motivation for overweight people to make better choices.

“What is sad is that there is a solution to this problem,” Dr. Dirk says. “Instead of demanding change in laws or other peoples behavior, it is long overdue to accept obesity as a true medical condition. Obesity has been identified as a real medical condition since 2004. It took the American Medical Association until 2013 to recognize it as a medical condition.”

As a medical condition, obesity directly affects health and day-to-day activities, from students’ classwork to the daily tasks of a demanding job. It takes a toll on one’s heart health, blood sugar levels and, sadly, psychological well-being.

Facing daily discrimination in what should be a safe learning environment isn’t something any child or teenager should have to live with. Instead, kids should be educated on healthy practices like a balanced diet and regular exercise with the help of a doctor or nutritionist. If these changes aren’t enough to combat obesity as a medical condition, there are still options to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

“If your obesity includes, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and high cholesterol, it is time to think of bariatric surgery even sooner,” Dr. Dirk explains. For this reason, Dr. Dirk is one of the few surgeons who chooses to operate on teens to allow them full participation in the day-to-day activities that their friends and peers enjoy. If your child struggles with obesity, remember that they struggle with a medical condition that is treatable with the help of trained experts.