Lets take a walk

Written by Banasree Purkayastha | Updated: Sep 30 2007, 06:20am hrs
When was the last time you chose to walk rather than drive Asked your chauffeur to drive the car home while you walked round the block Dropped in at the local grocery store to pick up some stuff rather than ask for home delivery over the phone Did you say theres no time Excuses for not walking can always be found close at hand from not having enough time to bad weather to finding it simply boring.

Today is World Heart Day and it is time to undo that damage. Lets go walking for 30 minutes and see what it can do for your heart and health. Just walking for 30-40 minutes a day five times a week can ensure a healthy heart. The added bonus chances of being struck down by diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, gall bladder stone, osteoarthiritis go down once you stick to a walking regime, says Dr Ashutosh Shukla, consultant, internal medicine, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon.

Walking is the easiest form of aerobic exercise, with all the attendant health benefits. Moderate brisk walking for 30-40 minutes every day where you work out a sweat can burn 500-800 calories. And it can be part of your normal daily routine just walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator; walk round the block instead of driving up to the porch; on a Sunday, instead of downing a few pints of beer, go for a walk with your kids and feel healthy and alive. If you think that the gym is too strenuous, or your muscles are too worn out, walking is the best choice. As long as you get your heart rate up a little, thats good, says Dr Shukla.

If you are worried whether you already have a heart disease, go for a simple lipid profile test. A lipid profile test can say whether you are prone to heart diseases. The levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, high density and low cholesterol can indicate whether you can get away with some lifestyle changes like diet and exercise or need to go in for drugs, says Dr Anita Suryanarayanan, chief of laboratory services, Lister Metropolis, Chennai.

For all those high-profile executives who say work comes in the way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and thereby finding time to exercise, a quick read of the recent Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier) report on preventive heathcare should say it all. The report indicates a strong relationship between preventive healthcare and corporate profitability. Eighty two per cent of respondents surveyed by Icrier said preventive health care measures increased a companys productivity andprofitability.

Realising the benefits of preventive healthcare, many companies are putting their hearts and their money on motivating their employees to walk the healthy path. Philips has organised a walkathon christened Philips Simplicity Walk today in the Capital on the occasion of World Heart Day. The Simplicity Walk is in line with the theme of the World Heart Day Team up for a healthy heart. It is a step forward in this direction to help people realise the benefits associated with a regular walk. This 5km walkathon will bring together people on a common platform and generate awareness towards a simple activity that could make a dramatic difference to peoples lives, says Anjan Bose, senior director & business head, Indian sub-continent, medical systems, Philips Electronics India.

According to the World Health Organisation, cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death globally, killing more than 17 million people in 2005. In India, coronary heart disease is a major cause for concern. India has the highest number of deaths from coronary heart disease throughout the world: 1,531,534. Increasingly, individuals within the age groups of 30-40 in high stress jobs are prone to heart ailments, with 37% of heart disease deaths happening because of a lack of physical activity. Says Murali Sivaraman, CEO designate, Philips Electronics India, In todays stressful and sedentary life, it is imperative to keep fit. My fitness mantra is a blend of a vegetarian diet, a daily 25 minute brisk walk on the treadmill and six hours of quality sleep that help me to completely destress and rejuvenate myself. I look forward to the Simplicity Walk, urge people to inculcate the habit of a daily walk and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Just 40 minutes is enough to have a healthy heart. Anything beyond 40 minutes will burn the calories. Thats why even patients of cardiovascular diseases can benefit from walking, says Dr Ashok Seth, cardiologist, Max Healthcare.

So just get moving. That will get your heart beating a little faster and help shed a few kilos. Youll end up leaner, healthier and happier. So, put on your trainers and lets go out.

Heart And Sole

* The heart is a muscle after all, and anything that makes the blood flow faster through a muscle helps keep it in shape. Maintaining a speed of 3-4 km per hour for 30 minutes every day is enough to keep your heart in good working order.

* Walkers spend more time with the entire foot on the ground, so shoes for walking need to have more room at the front for the feet to spread.

* Listen to a MP3 player when walking. Try using just one earphone so can still hear what is going on around you.

* Stay hydrated. If you will be walking for an hour or more, or in higher temperatures, take water with you. Even mild dehydration can cause you to feel lousy and make you think you hate walking!

* Walking is the safest exercise. Its much easier on the knees than running and, beyond an occasional stitch in the side, doesnt trigger untoward side effects. So if you are already suffering from cardiovascular disease, walking is the best bet for you.

* Walking gives a chance to reconnect with nature. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, see the colours. So give the treadmill a go-by and enjoy the endorphins.