I have had the great fortune to travel abroad twice within the last year. In June 2015 I visited England with my family while this March I traveled to Portugal and Spain. Each trip was for a different purpose, England for vacation while Portugal and Spain was part of my Master of Business Association (MBA) education. One thing that I continued to notice was the similarities in the way people lived. While Americans unionize for money, Europeans unionize for time. Meaning, Europeans find value in time away from work rather than money. This was quite evident with 2 hour long lunch and dinners and shorter overall workweeks. However, Europe does not have a perfect system as their unemployment rate is close to 30 percent whereas America is closer to 5 percent.
In addition to Europeans long dinning experiences, Europeans walk! They do not just walk from their cars to their office but they walk everywhere. After riding an express train and then a bus from Seville, Spain to Barcelona, Spain the last thing our MBA group wanted to do is sit more. We collected our maps and set out to find possible places to eat. After wandering around Barcelona, and finding out restaurants for dinner did not open until 8:00pm, we headed back to the hotel. Within this short time we had already walked a total of 4 miles. Now that I am back stateside my total walking mileage has dramatically shifted back to reaching only a couple thousand steps. Granted, I am back in reality where I have to work but I can feel the difference sitting versus standing and walking makes on my mental and physical health.
Benefits of Walking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- May protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, depression, and colon cancer
- Strengthens your bones and muscles
- Improves your mood
- Improves your balance and coordination
Hundreds of studies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, recommend daily physical activity. The current recommendation is to obtain at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. This can be done all at once or broken up into three, 10 minute segments. So what does “moderate aerobic activity” mean. It means boosting your heart rate to 70-80 percent of its maximum heart rate for 20-60 continuous minutes. As a general rule, shoot for 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If specifically looking at walking, distances of 5 1/2 miles per week at 2 miles per hour can provide health benefits.
With the temperatures rising, make the conscious decision to walk. Walk to a friends place, even if it is a mile away, walk to get coffee, walk to the grocery stores, walk as a way of transportation and walk for your health.
“Walking is a man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates