In case you haven’t noticed, spring is here! This might be a shock to anyone who has been outside lately. It’s still freezing and just downright cold. Many of us have been hibernating indoors, eating lots of unnecessary calories, sleeping for longer hours, and engaging in sedentary behavior. I know I got caught up on my movie watching and sleep. Some of you may even be a little depressed from being without the vitamin rich and energy carrying sunlight all winter long, a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the CDC, one in ten people over the age of 18 are clinically depressed. This number of depressed people tells me one thing. It’s time to get up off the couch and get moving again.
Before you know it, the birds will be chirping for no reason, the sun will be shining without interruption by snow clouds, and the days will be longer. We already had our traditional “springing” forward an hour for daylight savings time. So it’s time for a new hobby, activity, or exercise that involves being outside. Patients in my office are always asking me what they should be doing to get into better shape. I ALWAYS recommend walking.
Walking is one of the best exercises you can do. It’s easy, fun, allows for alone time (I call this time “me” time or Tim-me time) and gives you an opportunity to burn some calories while getting some exercise. Walking does great things for your body and mind. The top three killers in the world are heart disease, circulatory issues in the brain resulting in strokes and respiratory illnesses. Amazingly, all three of these conditions can be combated by simply walking every day. Walking allows for better circulation and helps build up the muscle tissue in your heart. Good circulation is also very important for lung health, brain health and even helps with mental health. Walking can even help improve your mood and make you less depressed.
Many of us suffer from bone density loss from being inactive and not doing weight bearing exercises such as walking. It use to be a prevalent problem in the elderly, but recently conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis are showing up in middle-age and even in young adults. When I see a patient with either of these conditions in my office, I put them on two great supplements and instruct the patient to walk. If the patient adheres to this protocol for 6 months, they will see significant progress in fighting bone loss.
The three main minerals that make up bone are calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. So, when a patient presents with bone loss, I put them on a supplement called Cal-Mag by Douglas Labs. This supplement, if you couldn’t tell by the name, has calcium citrate (a form of calcium that is highly absorbable) and magnesium. There is only one problem. The body also needs vitamin D to absorb calcium in the gut. You can get vitamin D three ways: through the skin (sun light), through diet or through supplements. If you are not getting enough vitamin D, the body can’t form enough of the hormone called calcitriol (active vitamin D) which is needed to absorb calcium in the gut. This then results in insufficient calcium absorption from the diet causing the body to take calcium from your bones. So, I put my patients on Vitamin D3 with K2 by OrthoMolecular Products. These two supplements coupled with weight bearing exercise such as walking will fight the bone loss and help make new bone.
So how long or how far should you walk a day? I know we live in a fast paced society here in the Chicagoland area. But just 30 minutes a day can really impact you and over time lower your risks for the top three killers in the world. It’s just that simple.
I practice what I preach. Besides motorcycling, walking and running are my favorite ways to get outside and enjoy this body of mine. I recommend you do the same. If you have any questions about anything in this blog, let me know. Until next time, get outside and walk already.
CDC. Current Depression Among Adults — United States, 2006 and 2008. MMWR 2010;59(38);1229-1235.