What inspires us, what sticks in our heads, what keeps us moving forward. We reflect on who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

One Step at a Time

Walking, a simple and repetitive movement of left foot in front of right foot. Something so simple most of us don’t realize how important the movement is to us. And I am not exaggerating when I say its health benefits are significant. When incorporating walking into your daily routine, you significantly help ward off heart disease, the culprit for 50% of American deaths each year. According to experts, some of the benefits include: improved heart health, weight loss, lower blood pressure, a reduced risk of cancer, improved circulation, a reduced risk of diabetes, stronger bones, better digestion, happier mood, a reduced risk of Dementia, increased lung capacity, delayed aging, reduced stress and higher levels of Vitamin D. A study published in PLoS Medicine showed that adding 150 minutes of brisk walking to your routine each week can add 3.4 years to your lifespan. Whew, that’s a lot of benefits for something so simple!

Looking at the two oldest people in my life, my 90-year-old great Aunt and my 94-year-old Godmother, shows me that their lifestyle contributes to their great health and quality of life. Aunt Rosie grew up on the streets of Newark, New Jersey – a harsh environment that led to multiple muggings – but that never stopped her from walking to her destinations. My cousins joke, “She’s faster than the young kids and in better shape than all of us!” And it’s true, she walks like a speeding train, and is sharp as a tack. Her smile is infectious yet her life hasn’t been easy. I believe her years walking the one-mile uphill climb to the grocery store and one-mile decline back home contributes to her longevity and healthy mind. A few years ago I revisited the town I grew up in near Auckland, New Zealand and had tea with Betty Reed, my Godmother, at her house perched up on Saint Heliers overlooking the bay. I couldn’t believe how great she looked and thought maybe she was in her early 70s. After a phone call with my mom later than evening I was informed that she was well into her nineties! Betty explained how now and for most of her life she walks down to the bay to buy produce, walks to church on Sundays, and rarely uses her car (I could tell by the thick layer of dust accumulating on it.) It seems that both of these wonderful ladies, from opposite ends of the globe, found their way to health and happiness through walking.

For the last year I’ve decided to walk to and from work every day. During the week I roam one mile with some inclines through the heart of UCLA campus. The bustling area motivates me to walk since there are so many students walking to classes throughout the day. About two months ago I adopted a puppy who comes to work with me, and brings joy to my life and our office. Having an animal that requires daily exercise helps motivate me, but I did enjoy walking before I adopted the little bugger. Since adopting this new habit I have lost about ten pounds and overall I feel healthier, which may be contributed to walking every day. I’ve noticed better moods when arriving to work and I enjoy the people I meet along my travels. Stress was a main factor into my anxiety and weight issues, and I find that walking helps to diminish those feelings. With each step on the pavement, problems are pounded away. With cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and obesity running in my family, I choose to walk in order to hopefully prevent any of these killer diseases from coming my way. One step at a time I am making my health a priority while enjoying the view, and I hope you do too.

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