Hitting Your Stride

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“Wa-a-alk … “

Slowly, this delicious word is spoken out loud, to my lab-chow’s absolute glee. His ears prick and those eyes lock in on me as his tail thumps rapidly against the floor.

He awaits the next key phrase that guarantees a full-tilt happy dance. I stare at him and I can see through his eyes his brain is bridled back, stalling his joy as he waits for it. His mouth pulls back a tad, prepping himself for a vocal consent.

I look at him, teasing him, making him stay frozen on the spot, his ears aching for those three magic words. Finally, I relent:  “You wanna go?”

After a round of sprints to the door, doughnuts around his leash and the biggest butt wagging around, I leash him up.

Amazing. It is I who should be doing the happy dance. Because with the simple act of putting on my Adidas and striding out the front door, I am providing my body with some of the best health benefits available – and among the easiest to attain.

Walking.

It is fabulous exercise for everyone. Young or old, getting out and about and moving those legs, (in our case only two), provides incredible benefits inside the body and out. Stretching the legs briskly forward, the feet taking in mileage, generates muscle action that moves the blood all over. With dedicated action, the heart pumps, delivering all kinds of healthy good stuff to the cells, a life-giving act.

And with a daily brisk walk, the heart snaps up and learns to be more efficient while becoming stronger. Sitting all day pools the blood and causes stagnation in the body – muscles and limbs get stiff and the heart turns sluggish. Walking prompts things to start moving.

After 10-20 minutes of activity, the blood sugar levels required to fuel the muscles alerts the body to start burning extra pounds. Figure in at least a 30-minute brisk walk a day to help release unwanted pounds and improve blood sugar levels. What a great way to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Yes, walking allows the body to breath in health and fitness in a comfortable manner that fits in perfectly with the stresses of day to day life. Walk in the morning to start the day on a positive note; or after a tough day at work to unwind and let it all out.

With the sun shining down on the face and  its warmth permeating the body, know that the bones are benefiting with all the lovely vitamin D converting under the skin to enable the absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorous for bone density, muscle strength, and help in regulating the heart beat.

As I pass the squirrel cussing out my dog from the branch above, I understand that walking provides more oxygen to the brain and increases the odds to keeping cognitive function from declining with advancing age. One foot in front of the other also adds additional years of life and reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Circulating blood works with the lymphatic system to cart away lots of bad stuff accumulated in the body and by walking and getting the blood moving, helps the body remove waste products and keep the body clean and fit.

It’s all good, as the saying goes.

Arms swinging side to side, watching my dog correspond in a pee-mail stream against a tree, I smile, chuckle and realize how the body glides into an uplifted mood with serotonin and dopamine leading the way with every step I take. It feels just fine. That’s because walking alleviates depression and provides a connection to earth, a motherly embrace with an electromagnetic charge upon each stride taken. We are made of earth, fed by the earth and so directly connected to her via our gentle steps.

Those of you with a little more spunk in your steps, add some plyometrics to your walk. Take one-minute bursts to bound with long leaps or stop for a round of jumping jacks or rabbit hops to increase the heart rate and burn more belly fat.

Living in Southern California gives an excuse to get up and walk to health. There is no harm done by going outside to feel the world around you while you pace your body up the sidewalk, blue sky all around.

And now with my own walk finished, I look up at the sky and stretch my hands high above my head and gently take a bow in thanks for being able to walk and keep my body fit. As fingers reach toes, my dog takes the opportunity to come over and wet-nose me for the chance to walk. I thank him, too, and through the sparkle in his eyes I clearly see him say, “Any time my friend, any time

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