How the Simple Act of Walking Increased My Quality of Life

By: Dr. Tanuj Palvia, MD.

Unlike some of my colleagues and many of my patients, I have never considered myself an “athlete”. As the son of two immigrants who put education first and foremost, calculators and books were emphasized above anything else. That, and being short and chunky (I didn’t get my growth spurts till the senior year of high school and even college!), I gravitated more to math and science than sports and physical fitness. I was that kid in gym class who ran the 11-minute mile, and couldn’t do any pull-ups! It also probably didn’t help that I was a dedicated member of the Dorito’s and Nintendo generation throughout my early youth.

Over time, I certainly did become more health-conscious, and my habits and interests evolved. But it was always a challenge to keep the weight off and perform at a high physical level. With increasing time demands related to my education, family, and life, I have never really been able to reach the condition that I have strived to be – an athlete. That being said, it is all about making small changes to achieve one’s goals. After three children and finally finding a rhythm with my career, I decided it was indeed time to shed myself of my magnificent “dadbod”. Over the past 2 years, I made several positive changes with my nutritional intake, as well as found time in a seemingly endless list of errands and responsibilities to make room for exercise. I began a lifting program and also would be cycling 5-7 miles every day, just to make some serious dents in my cardiovascular performance and boost energy levels. Things had been going great. Then 2 months ago, an old shoulder injury became an active issue again, and since then, I have been pretty much sidelined. Cycling and lifting have been difficult, and finding a new exercise routine has been tough to find, especially living the hectic New York City lifestyle. But then last month, I decided I would start walking. Walking briskly. Walking EVERYWHERE. I can’t emphasize the amazing benefits of this and would like to share some of my experiences with you.

I live about 2.5 miles from my office, and for the last 8 weeks, I have committed to walking to drop my kids off to school, then walking to work and walking home every single day. This comes out to more than 5 miles per day. When I walk, I get to breathe fresh, crisp, air, which usually doesn’t happen much sitting in an office all day. I sweat. The body needs this. I get to experience the sunlight, the crisp breeze against my skin. My kids and I chat, about all kinds of things that I had no idea they are thinking about before school. We bond. I teach them Hindi. After drop-off, I usually listen to a podcast while walking, and get to learn a new piece of information every single day. I notice my surroundings. I observe my neighbors. Sometimes I run into an old friend or colleague and catch up; sometimes I discover a cool store that I never knew was there. I admire my surroundings; the local inspiring architecture that I barely used to otherwise. Sometimes I actually “stop and smell the roses”. I have become more mindful of the life and world around me. I feel grateful to be a part of it.

Recent meta-reviews report that walking 15,000 steps per day has amazing benefits including lowering body mass index by counteracting the effects of weight-promoting genes. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, lowers fasting blood sugar and stabilizes glucose swings, curbing the sweet tooth. It certainly eases joint pain by promoting lubrication of the joint and strengthening supportive ligaments. It boosts the immune system and also reduces the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer. It helps in increasing memory and cognitive function, lowering stress, improving mood, and leading to a longer life.

We all may not have the ability to commit to a rigorous running program or athletic activity, but being able to increase our walking on a daily basis provides benefits that certainly improve health and overall quality of life! If you’d like us to help us guide you through your fitness and health journey, don’t hesitate to call us now or reach out to us by filling out the form below:

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