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The very best exercise of them all?
by Lauren Hebert, DPT
Physical therapists are often asked that one simple question: what is the best exercise of all?
With all the newest gadgets and gimmicks pushed aside, the very best exercise of all is hands-down walking. The human body is designed to walk. Virtually every body system benefits…breathing, circulation, brain function, digestion, immune system, musculoskeletal systems. It requires no costly equipment or athletic skills. It can be done almost anywhere anytime. It can be light or vigorous. It can be measured and targeted. It can quickly become a very healthy habit with very little effort at nearly any age.
Walking saturates the lungs, blood and everything fed by the circulation with a sustain blast of oxygen for healthy metabolism as well as flush wastes from the tissues. Lungs, heart, and blood vessels dilate and strengthen to deliver circulating oxygen with ever-increasing efficiency. Brain chemistry improves, reducing depression and anxiety. Muscles, tendons, joints and spinal discs are fed by walking with the loading and unloading of each step sponging water and nutrients into discs and removing wastes.
Problems that may preclude walking as an exercise include foot arch alignment problems (easily corrected with inexpensive shoe insert), spinal stenosis, cardiovascular disease, arthritic in knees or hips that cause abnormal walking stresses.
All these can be assessed and addressed by a physical therapist. For more information see www.smartcarept.com.