This Saturday was beautiful – sunny, cool, perfect waking weather. Walking with friends has got to be the best tonic available! We at the TPW have known this for a long time but now it’s showing up in medical studies all over the place.
1) 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (you can talk but not sing) gets you a stronger heart, lower blood pressure, clearer thinking and sounder sleep.
2) Post mortem brain scans of active elderly people showed that they had more of a class of proteins associated with healthy cognition.
3) An average of 4,500 steps a day significantly lowers the risk of dying, every increase of 1,000 steps lowers the risk by 28%. (My math skills are dubious but this seems to imply you can live forever if you walk enough each day,)
4) The kindness and empathy exhibited during these walks helps us do better mentally and physically with illness and adversity.
5) Getting outside causes stress levels to fall by 60%.
6) Walking boosts immune cells to fight off infection.
7) And the nap after the walk helps the body regulate its inflammatory response.
I’m a big fan of Quirks and Quarks (a CBC science show) and this week they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 1969. As I listened I was struck with awe at the bravery of those men, realizing more now than I did when I was 21, how really primitive the technology of that event was, and frankly, how much luck was required! Despite the fact that it was an event inspired by the Cold War, we saw it as an achievement by the inhabitants of earth. We were a hopeful lot back then, thinking we could stop wars with sit-ins and songs. Sometime in the half century that followed, I lost that shiny view.
I’m sorry to say that I’m giving up again. Finishing a half-marathon is being removed from my list of annual goals. For many years, training for my annual 21k race was the motivation to keep me on the walking trails, piling on the kilometres. I got to know the city really well! I had trained to walk the Beaches Jazz Festival 21k next weekend, when a family difficulty arose that made it impossible. The relief I felt when I realized I would have to drop out was astonishing! I guess I didn’t really want to run that race but could not admit it to myself. So, from now on my races will be 10k’s. Don’t despise me; don’t pity me as I accept the limits of my knees. It’s part of admitting that I’m seventy-one. (And don’t send me pictures of octagenarians skipping rope!)