As we welcome October with all its pumpkin spice goodness, it’s important to keep up your walking habit and resist the temptation to settle in for another round of bread baking and Netflix bingeing. With an extra layer and a sturdy pair of walking shoes, the fall is a spectacular season to soak up all the beautiful sights and smells; and although walking is an inexpensive and accessible activity, Canadians are not walking nearly enough compared with other countries.
According to a recent Healthing report, 2017 research published in the journal Nature, found that on average Canadians only take about 4,819 steps per day compared with the typical Brit who walks an average of 5,444 steps each day. A September 2020 Statistics Canada study reports that Canadians who work full time are sedentary for 68.9 percent of their day. Eighty percent of Canadians aren’t getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
However simple, a brisk daily walk can not only help prevent chronic illness but according to a 2011 Lancet study, it can extend life expectancy by up to three years and reduce death rates by all causes. Older adults can help prevent falls, stave off cognitive decline, and reduce the risk for depression with a regular walking program. If you walk outdoors with a loved-one or a couple of friends, the benefits increase.
Walking with a partner not only makes it easier to stay committed, but the much-needed social interaction can boost mood. Walking with a friend who encourages you to go a little farther or a little faster can have significant results. Picking up the pace a bit with each walk, even for short bouts of increased speed, can help improve physical fitness and extend life expectancy and independence.
Choose a new walking trail or path, mix up your route, and enlist a friend who will help keep you motivated. If you don’t have a walking buddy, try listening to music or a podcast to keep you moving faster and longer. It can take several months to instill a new habit, but walking daily is one your older self will thank you for, and it may become your favorite part of each day.