Walking a healthy path

Former president of Fiji and now the Speaker of the House Ratu Epeli Nailatikau leads a morning walk as part of efforts to encourage healthy lifestyle among Fijians. Picture: www.fi ji.gov.fj

Walking is nature’s magical drug. This term was coined by late Jogindar Singh Kanwal, a prominent author and well known personality of Ba who died at the age of 89 yrs . He was the former principal of Khalsa High School

Mr Jogindar has written many books (Fiction and Non Fiction) in Hindi and English and published a book on Walking, Nature’s Magical Drug.

Many of his articles were published in the The Fiji Times and he won many awards locally and internationally. A library at Khalsa High School is dedicated to his immeasurable works.

Mr Jogindar walked daily and he studied extensively to complete this book on walking. He had put in a lot of time and effort in researching and compiling articles for this book.

Written concisely, in depth, authoritatively and yet in very simple language for anyone to understand the immeasurable benefits that can be derived from this masterpiece and marvelous piece of work.

It’s now universally accepted and gospel truth that walking is the best exercise recommended by all the experts.

Walking is the most underrated form of exercise. Studies have shown impressive mental and physical benefits.

Walking is an effective physical activity and as good as a work out in a gym and even better than running. Walking can help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals if you are overweight or obese.

Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, less strain on your joints, prevents weight gain, reduces risk for cancers and chronic diseases, improves endurance, circulation and posture.

Many in our midst have started walking, either in the morning or afternoon. CAAF compound is quite popular here in Nadi as well as the four way lane Queens Highway with wide footpaths that is attracting many walkers and joggers as well as cyclists. Also good to see many families with baby strollers and even pet dogs.

Unfortunately, though many of the walkers don’t seem to be “walking for health”. Many, and about 95 per cent of them, walk rather too clumsily, slowly and awkwardly. Their efforts are therefore totally wasted and it’s better for them to devote time in the gardens or kitchens!

One needs to adopt the correct attitude and technique, walk briskly but without tiring. Simple adjustments, outlook, attitude and posture needs to be adopted while walking briskly that will be far more beneficial for good health and longevity.

Pace yourself so that you can still talk without puffing and walking with others makes it enjoyable and sociable.

Walking is a gentle low impact aerobic exercise as against running or jogging which is high impact aerobic exercise. Running or jogging has drawbacks in the long-term with various potential injuries to the feet, ankles, legs and back.

Stresses and strains, including sprains are common among runners as well stress fractures. Running is perhaps best for the younger age groups but walking is easy, free and suitable for all age groups and most abilities.

No one is in a better position to advocate and emphasise the immense value of regular exercises than the general practitioner (GP). Every consultation at GP level is an opportune time to study the pattern of exercises if any and this fact driven home.

On many occasions we hear from our patients (when prodded on exercises) that they can’t find the time for any form of exercise.

The great soul Mahatma Gandhi had this to say on exercise “no matter what amount of work one has, one should always find time for exercise, just as one does for one’s meal. It’s my humble opinion that, far from taking time away from one’s capacity for work, it adds to it”.

Patients have to be motivated to exercise regularly, daily if possible. Thirty minutes of walking daily is all you need that can be achieved with a bit of discipline, without excuses, either in the morning or afternoon.

The prevalence of non communicable diseases (NCDs) in our community is staggering or alarmingly high which is largely attributed to lack of exercise.

The high prevalence rate of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, stroke and IHD’s (heart attacks) contributes to more than 80 per cent of deaths in our community.

We need to arrest and reverse this trend. Smoking habits is just as bad a risk factor for IHD’s or heart attack apart from Stroke and Cancers .

Sports today plays a significant role in our society which obviously augurs well. Fiji has produced many first class sportsmen and sportswomen

Sports is the most important tool for the prevention and control of NCDs so let’s continue to talk daily to our patients to adopt any sports they would prefer but by and large most should adopt “walking” as the preferred choice but mind you walking attitude must be correctly adopted or applied, otherwise a waste of time or effort wasted and you never reap the benefits.

One can easily browse the internet for information and advise (with graphics and videos) on the best attitude and technique to be adopted for “walking for health, natures magical drug”.

  •  Dr Ram Raju is a general medical practitioner  and Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry president. The views expressed are his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

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