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How walking can protect you from COVID-19

| September 02, 2020, 04:47 PM

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Walking is a hidden wonder cure to increase immunity. (Image: Unsplash)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight to obese. This statistic is a considerable health problem since overweight to obese people have a higher risk for more than sixty chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Thus, people of all ages – including those in the ‘normal’ BMI range – should exercise regularly and control their diet.

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It is well-known in the health and fitness industry that weight loss is 70 percent based on nutrition and 30 percent exercise. Although the industry is saturated with ‘magic pills’ that claim to help you lose 5 lbs in a week, there are some weight loss supplements that are healthy and nutritionist-approved and are proven to be effective. For example, in a comparison between LeanBean and Hourglass, both were found to be effective natural fat burning pills for women and use mainly natural herbs and spices.

On the other hand, exercise, defined as “any activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness,” not only serves to help our physical well-being but also our emotional and social well-being. Some health benefits of exercise include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced risk of developing high blood pressure, elevated mood, reduced anxiety, and a more robust immune system.

Given the current pandemic, more and more people have been looking for ways to strengthen their immune system. Aside from eating nutritious food like fruits and vegetables, exercise plays a vital role in keeping your immune system healthy. However, due to government efforts to slow the spread of the virus, many gyms have temporarily closed or operate on restricted hours around the United States. It’s a good thing that one of the best researched and most recommended forms of exercise only requires your body – walking.

Get your walking shoes out — walking is Maryland’s official state exercise. (Image: Unsplash)

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, “walking is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.” According to Chief Medical Officer for United Healthcare Dr. Mayrene Hernandez, the goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day. It may sound intimidating if you’re used to living a sedentary lifestyle, but you don’t have to start with 10,000 steps. Dr. Hernandez advises that beginning in small increments of 300-500 steps per day, then working your way up to 10,000 steps per day is recommendable for those unused to exercising.

The benefits of walking include surprising things like a reduction in the effect of weight-promoting genes, a reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer, the management of joint pain, as well as arthritis prevention. Most importantly, it has been proven by several studies that walking boosts your body’s immune system.

In 2006, Japanese researchers studied the effects of walking exercise training on the immune response in elderly subjects. This study found that the impact of five thirty-minute walking sessions per week for three months enhanced the mucosal immune function in elderly subjects. Another study with over 1,000 participants found that those who walked for a minimum of 20 minutes a day for five days a week had almost 50% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week. Those that did get sick while regularly walking had milder flu symptoms and got better faster. With all these benefits just from walking, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that all Americans walk for at least 30-45 minutes per day, five days a week.

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Maryland, specifically, has adopted walking as their official state exercise – the first state in the nation to do so back in 2008. At the time, the state officials chose this particular exercise due to its low impact and high results to lessen public health problems. What makes walking more interesting and enjoyable in Maryland is that it has an abundance of forests, parks, and hiking trails over different terrain. For example, the Appalachian Trail and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal are both accessible from the state.

Locals can also find popular hiking trails in Maryland counties like those around Loch Raven Reservoir in Baltimore County, along with those around Calvert Cliffs in Calvert County and through Gunpowder Falls State Park in Baltimore and Harford counties. In particular, Baltimore City has several hiking trails like the Gwynns Falls Trail and the Stony Run Trail, as well as trails throughout Cylburn Arboretum.

Though COVID-19 makes it more challenging to exercise outside, the Maryland public officials allow residents to go out to get fresh air and exercise as long as they follow proper social distancing. Walking, running, and hiking, in particular, are listed as allowable activities in Maryland and D.C.

When walking – whether inside or outside of your house in Annapolis – it’s vital to warm up to stretch your muscles before taking a walk and cool down post-exercise. Also, remember to stay hydrated, wear good walking shoes to minimize the risk of getting an injury, and take care of your feet!

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Category: COVID, Local News, NEWS

About the Author - Stephanie Fahie

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages. She can usually be found on a baseball field!

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