Are You Brave Enough to Accept My Challenge?

Today, I want you to rethink your life...

As Americans, we spend more of our time sitting on our butts or lying on our backs.

Every day, we spend an hour driving to and from work, eight hours sitting at a desk, at least four hours watching TV when we get home, and (hopefully) at least seven hours sleeping.

Right now, you're probably thinking, "OK, Doc, I know where you're going with this..."

If you're a longtime reader, you've heard me say it before...

If you want to live a long, healthy life, you need to get moving.

But now that many of us are back in our offices, we're getting back into old habits and spending far too much time on our rears.

That's why today, I have a challenge for you...

I want you to walk.

Yes, it's as simple as that.

It'll only take a few minutes of your day. There's no need for a gym membership or fancy equipment. You already have everything you need – a good pair of sneakers.

As I mentioned, longtime readers know I'm an advocate of walking. I often hold walking meetings and try to get out once a day to walk in the sunshine. When the weather is bad, you'll catch me on a treadmill instead.

It may not seem like much, but walking on a regular basis can completely change your life, like it did for Sandra Anderson – a 63-year-old prison chaplain and a five-year breast cancer survivor living in Georgia.

Last month, Anderson met her goal of walking every day for a year. She said it's helped with her depression, grief, and anxiety. Her walking also inspired her to eat better. She's now sleeping better, has more energy, and reports, "For the first time in 40 years, my doctor is not screaming at me about my weight."

Studies show that regular walking – even just 20 minutes a day – helps fight...

  • Blood-sugar spikes
  • Constipation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Joint pain

Any movement helps boost your immune system and fight depression, too.

Walking is easy, free, and just about anyone can do it. Even better... walking helps you live longer.

A 2017 study from the U.K. showed that substituting 30 minutes of light activity, such as walking, for 30 minutes of screen time cut risk of early mortality. The study followed nearly half a million participants over about seven years. It's dose-dependent, too – the more active you are (and less screen time you have), the healthier and longer your life will be.

It's easy to let distractions keep you inactive. And with so many choices for what to watch on television, it's a wonder any of us ever get off the couch.

And a 2015 study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that participants who used just two minutes of every hour that they spent sitting to do light-intensity activity (like casual walking, light gardening, or cleaning) lowered their risk of dying from health problems caused by sedentary behavior by 33%.

So start small if you haven't done a lot of moving in a while. It will still make a huge difference. Aim for a 20-minute walk each day (or break it into a few shorter walks throughout the day totaling 20 minutes). You can walk around your house, up and down the stairs, or try going to a gym or even a shopping mall.

Many shopping malls in the U.S. have walking programs where you can go before stores open and do a few laps – the malls are climate-controlled and the floors are often designed to make walking easier (with extra padding, for instance).

Check with your local shopping centers and hospitals about walking programs near you. And call ahead to confirm the hours. We found that the malls with walking programs around Baltimore have different hours than what was posted online due to operational changes associated with COVID-19.

So, if you feel like you're in a slump, or want to shake up your usual routine, get out and get walking. In fact, we're going to make it easier for you with this walking tracker.

Print this tracker out and post it on your fridge. Then, every day over the next week, circle the amount of time you walk (aiming for 20 minutes each day). It's that simple.

Share your tracker progress with us at [email protected] (and pictures of your favorite places to walk).

And don't forget to share your tips for getting in your steps each day.

It's a great way to challenge yourself, your friends, and your neighbors. Share this issue with your friends and get them to join you.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 9, 2022