Go For a Walk!

This week we’re going to talk about taking a walk. Here’s what I tell my patients: “I’ll pay any price to keep you mobile.” I consider mobility a goal of the highest priority. There is only one other goal about which I feel this way; I also want patients to know that I will pay any price to keep their blood sugars normal. When our kids were much younger, and they got stuck in a complaining mode (I’m cranky; I don’t feel well; I’m bored; I have too much homework), I would always say, “Go for a walk!” It got to be a joke in our house. They took it to the next level. Fever? Go for a walk! Migraine? Take a hike!  Broken leg? Walk it off! Appendicitis? “Very funny,” I said.

Our bodies are meant to move, and walking is just about the best solution for a whole host of problems. This week, plan a family walk after Thanksgiving dinner, and then do it again in the days after, along with whoever you can convince to join you. It will calm and focus your mind, protect your mobility, modulate your blood sugar, stabilize your mood, and improve your sleep. It’s a win-win.

Activity is a very powerful mood stabilizer, perhaps the most powerful, and there is even evidence suggesting that it is equivalent to taking an anti-depressant. A walk is a great way to perk up a droopy mood or calm an overstimulated mind, especially after an intense family get-together. A walk will keep your circulatory system circulating, and that will keep your skin looking young and healthy. A walk will  keep you vibrant in all the ways that count. Finally, because moving turns some of your food into physical energy, it will help keep your weight and blood sugars in the normal range. When you go for a walk, you are doing a lot.

There’s no need to train for a marathon or an iron man. Just make time to move a little bit more than you did last week.

A final word: One reason that dog owners are generally in better health is because of the benefit that accrues from having to take your dog for a walk every day. One morning I drove past the local church and saw the following sign: Pray every day—walk with God. That would work, too.

One last thing: If you have not yet tuned in to the #TodayShow on #NBC to check out our Brain Health & Wellness program at Cleveland Clinic Wellness, now’s the time! I am so very proud of the Brain Team!

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