Many people, including many of my patients, are seeking the magic pill for weight loss. They hope that I can give them a prescription diet pill to help them lose weight and keep it off. Surely prescription weight loss can work for them…
Imagine for a moment that I could. Imagine that I could offer a pill, which would have all of the following effects:
- Reduces body fat
- Improves the body mass index
- Helps maintain weight loss
- Improves blood sugar levels
- Prevent or reduce high blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of breast or colon cancer
- Helps prevent heart disease
- Reduces the risk of stroke
- Strengthens your bones
- Reduces incidence of osteoporosis
- Can prevent the onset of type II diabetes
- Helps control pre-existing diabetes
- Improves your mood
- Reduces or alleviates depression
- Improves balance and coordination, leading to reduced chance of injury from falls
- Improves sleep (which also helps you lose weight)
- Slows the aging process
- Reduces medical costs
- Has no significant deleterious side effects
Wow, that’s quite the list! I’m sure you’d be willing and eager to shell out a significant amount for these pills. But what most people won’t do is trade a little of their time for them. Would you give up 10 to 30 minutes per day?
Walking. Just Walking.
You see, while all these benefits are not yet available in pill form, they are easily obtained by walking only 10 to 30 minutes per day. You don’t have to power walk. You don’t need special equipment. You don’t need special shoes, or a pedometer, although getting a pedometer can help. You just need to get off the couch and start easy, with only 10 minutes.
Walking is the most popular aerobic physical activity.
You have to want to feel better, and consistently take a small action to do it. You have to overcome the excuses.
- My show is on (tape it!)
- It’s raining out (dress for the weather)
- My back/joints hurt (they’ll hurt less after a walk)
- I’ll do it tomorrow (no, you won’t)
Find a Walking Partner
If you can find a walking partner, it will be much easier to stay consistent. Walking and talking is fine, so walking can become an important social time of your day. Perhaps you could use it to get in some quality time with a family member – a child or spouse. If you don’t have someone to walk with, an iPod with headphones and music, or an audiobook to listen to, makes it easier and more enjoyable to get your walk in.
Make Walking An Easy Part Of Your Day
Consider planning a walk after dinner, or even after breakfast if there’s time in your day. Some people fit their walk in during their lunch hour at work.
Every minute of walking can extend your life by 1½ to 2 minutes!
If weather is questionable, dress in layers, and add a waterproof outer shell. A small waist pack with your keys, ID and phone is a good idea. Try to walk in a well lighted area, and if you can’t, ensure you wear reflective clothing. Some people choose to walk in malls. In fact, if you’re a senior, there may be a walking program already in existence in a mall near you.
“Step Up” Your Walking When You’re Ready
As your walks get longer, and you move beyond 10 minutes, you’ll probably want to add a water bottle, and perhaps that pedometer. You may want to try a brisker pace. Perhaps you could find or help set up a walking program in your neighborhood. There’s even an app for your iPhone or Android phone that will help you find walking paths, or you can plan your route online with mapmywalk.com.
Use Your Walking Success To Drive Other Lifestyle Changes
What comes next? You might want to consider other forms of gentle exercise, or begin learning about eating clean. These are all lifestyle changes that will benefit anyone long-term, not just those who need to lose weight.
Walking not going to give you fast enough weight loss results? If you want a fast path to weight loss and you’re in Hawaii, come in and see me. I can help you with a customized medical weight loss program, including prescription diet pills if they’re what’s appropriate for your situation… but if you’re not ready to commit to extreme weight loss today… at least start walking.