With the onset of the new year newspapers are full of exercise and diet plans. Many are advising us to take up running. This is not necessarily a good thing. I personally am of the “no pain, no pain” school of thought and you can burn just as many calories by walking as jogging without the added strain on your body. I only have to look at most of the joggers I see in my local park to know that they are going to cause long term injuries to themselves. I have many friends with injuries after taking up training for marathons and triathlons owing to the excess pressure put on their joints and according to a physiotherapist friend of mine the three most stressful exercises on the body are running, spinning and Bikram yoga. Another doctor I know has said that bodies over the age of 20 are not designed to run.
By definition, when you are running you at some point in your stride have both feet off the ground. This is what creates the impact. When you walk, the pressure is four times greater through your lumbar spine, whereas when you run it is twenty times greater and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that walking is actually one of the best forms of exercise for both body and brain.
My friend Clive Lathey, an osteopath was recently quoted in the Daily Mail:-
‘If you look at the pelvis, the sacroiliac joint in the lower back, and the S-shaped curve of the spine, they are designed for shock-absorbing vertical force. We’re well adapted to walking. What we’re not adapted to is spending lots of time sitting down in cars and at computers — that tightens and weakens the muscles in the back.’
You can still get a good cardiovascular work out if you walk fast and up hills and especially if you aim to walk on uneven ground – it helps not only strengthen your muscles but improve your balance. In addition, walking outside is not only a free form of exercise but communing with nature is known to provide a positive effect on the brain — “things you experience through the senses such as the eyes and the nose have an effect on the brain.’
So. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t like running. Get out and walk. Far more enjoyable.