|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
Volume II, Issue XIII THE OGDEN VALLEY NEWS Page 11 1 July 2000 A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – The Health Benefits of Hiking For years, studies comparing exercise to physical and mental health consistently have found that regular exercise increases a person’s overall health and results in a longer life. Why, then, do only 10 percent of the U.S. adult population exercise for more than 20 minutes, three or more days per week? Perhaps the answer is in how people perceive exercise. Beneficial exercise does not need to involve a painful and boring one-hour workout. A good workout can be a brisk 30-minute walk with the dog, or a slower one-hour hike through a local park. According to the American Heart Association, it’s best to walk vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes three or four times per week. But even low- to moderate intensity walking can have both short- and long-term benefit. These benefits are numerous, ranging from controlling obesity to preventing heart disease to improving the quality of air we breathe by spending less time in automobiles. Preventing heart disease. Every 60 seconds, someone in America dies of a heart attack, and each year, cardiovascular disease kills about 479,000 women and 447,000 men. While heart disease is caused by more than just inactivity, the odds of avoiding this leading cause of death in America can be greatly improved by maintaining a regular walking routine. The results of 43 separate studies by The Center for Disease Control showed that by exercising, individuals significantly reduce their chances for heart problems, while those who do not exercise are twice as likely to have coronary heart disease. In addition, walking can improve your health if you have already suffered a heart attack. A prime example is Ralph Reimer, a respiratory equipment technician in Minnesota. After having a heart attack, his doctor put him on a walking schedule. He lost 30 pounds and his resting pulse rate dropped 30 points, significantly decreasing his risk of having another heart attack. Reimer said, “It’s nice to have a second chance. I haven’t felt this good in years. Decreasing hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, plagues millions of Americans. With modern development, medication is the most common cure, but there are other, less costly options. Research has shown that regular exercise such as walking lowers blood pressure by 5 to 20 points. More specifically, blood vessels dilate during a walk, thus reducing the production of insulin; high insulin produces high blood pressure. A recent study put 29 sedentary men with mild hypertension through an aerobic exercise program, and after 10 weeks, their blood pressure dropped dramatically. The doctor conducting the study pointed out that the exercise was not overly strenuous. “People in our study exercised at levels well within their comfort zones. Their exercise consisted of either walking, cycling, jogging, or doing any combination of activities for approximately 30 minutes, four times a week. The subsequent reduction in blood pressure suggests that physical activity of even fairly light intensity may be more helpful against hypertension than previous research has led us to think. Decreasing cholesterol levels. As a result of eating the wrong foods and leading sedentary lifestyles, many people develop high cholesterol. Hiking has been linked to the decrease of overall cholesterol level. More specifically, it increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL), considered to be the “good cholesterol, which helps move bad cholesterol from the artery walls. A study comparing the cholesterol levels of mail carriers, who walked a few miles daily, to people engaged in no exercise proved that walking leads to an increase in the “good” HDL. The study’s results support hiking and walking as a method of stabilizing cholesterol levels. Losing excess pounds. Hiking is a great way to lose excess pounds, thereby improving your physical appearance. According to Walking for Health, people “won’t find a better way to lose weight than walking.” The results may not be as fast as people would like, but they will probably be more permanent and pleasurable than any diet or weight loss scheme. When hiking a comfortable 2-mph, a person weighing 150 pounds will burn 240 calories in one hour. Even more calories can be burned by increasing the speed. A study conducted at Bayor University in Texas found that people who simply dieted lost weight quickly, but two years later, they had gained most or all of it back. People who walked took longer to start shedding the pounds, but two years later they had maintained their weight or were still losing weight. Slowing the aging process. Medical advances and a greater knowledge of the aging process continue to increase the life expectancy of humans. These advances, however, do not always change the way people view aging. To many people, becoming more inactive as they age is simply a part of life. These people are wrong. Research shows that what we once accepted as a natural part of growing older—decline in physical activity and strength—does not have to accompany aging; it simply is a matter of using it or losing it. A study of two groups of 15 middle-aged men was conducted between 1969 and 1992, during which time one group exercised regularly, while the other group exercised for the first five years and then stopped. When researchers tested these men at the end of the 23 years, they found that the non-exercisers lost 41 percent of their aerobic power, while the exercisers lost only 13 percent. Another study shows that regular exercise slows or even prevents the aging of the immune system. Immunologists have long thought that the immune system declines naturally with age, and that by age 70, immune cells are usually not half as effective in killing infectious agents as they were at age 20. However, a study of physically active women in their 70’s showed their immune systems to be as active as young adults. Aging doesn’t decrease the body’s ability to be physically active and healthy, but rather leading an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle accelerates the aging process! Improving osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease in older women who lack sufficient amounts of calcium. This deficiency reduces bone density, increases the bone’s porosity and brittleness, leading to a susceptibility to broken bones. Hiking and walking help reverse the negative effects of osteoporosis by increasing the bone density and slowing the rate of calcium loss, thus strengthening the bones and decreasing their susceptibility to break. The University of Washington found that women with osteoporosis who walked for one hour three days per week increased their bone density in the spine and other parts of the body by 6 percent over a nine-month period. Improving and maintaining mental health. Depression and stress are common medical problems in today’s world. Thanks to research on the benefits of walking, however, people who suffer from these ailments are learning that they do not need to take pills, receive injections or undergo therapy to improve these problems. They’ve found a simpler and much less expensive way to feel better; walking every day. Studies have shown that a brisk walk generates a significant effect. How does this work? Walking causes the release of calming brain chemicals called endorphins, which are natural tranquilizers. Also, walking releases adrenaline, produced by the body to cope with real or perceived danger. If the adrenaline isn’t released from the body, it accumulates, causing muscle tension and feelings of anxiety. A recent study tested 36 walkers for anxiety, tension and blood pressure levels before, during, and after 40 minutes of walking. Results showed immediate decreases in tension and anxiety as well as blood pressure after walking, regardless of how fast or slow the participants walked. Improving the quality of the air we breathe. The transportation we choose every day affects the health of millions. Automobile emissions rank number one among all causes of air pollution, the cause of at least 50,000 respiratory illness cases annually in the U.S. Walking can replace short-distance motor-vehicle trips, which are the least fuel-efficient and generate the most pollution per mile traveled. A family that walks two miles a day instead of driving will, in one year, prevent 730 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. What a difference this would make to your lungs! Preventing and controlling diabetes. Diabetes, a common chronic metabolic disorder, changes the way a body breaks down and uses starches and sugars (glucose). Normally insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps store glucose in a form that later can be released for energy. In a diabetic, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or produces no insulin. Uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage. The number of Americans with diabetes is up almost 50 percent from 1983. According to Richard Eastman of the Diabetes Institute, this is caused by, among other things, increase rates of obesity and physical inactivity. Regular exercise, including hiking, can help prevent diabetes and can protect the body from the degenerative effects of diabetes. For a person who has Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes, walking can reduce the amount of insulin the person needs. A person with Type II (non-insulin dependent) diabetes can actually reverse the course of the diabetes through diet, exercise and weight loss. Improving Arthritis. Many people’s response to arthritis pain is to stop or decrease the use of their painful joints. Unfortunately, this is the worst treatment for arthritic joints; lack of movement actually compounds the problem. Once properly diagnosed and treated most people with arthritis can benefit from a regular exercise program. Recent research suggests that walking may be the best exercise. Walking helps strengthen muscles, especially leg muscles. People with arthritis in their knees or ankles seem HIKING cont. on page 12 Volunteers Dave Phagley and Dan Harris, members of the Back Country Horsemen, put waterbars on the Old Pioneer Trail to control erosion.