From the CEO of Kaiser Permanente via my brother in law who works at Kaiser:
" It is time to celebrate walking. There are very few things that we can do that have a more positive impact on our health and our lives than walking. Walking feels good. Walking cheers people up. And walking has an amazing array of positive results when it comes to our health. Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can cut new cases of Type 2 diabetes by nearly half. Our bodies are made to walk. Walking gets the blood flowing through our veins, and changes our blood chemistry to increase the percentage of good (HDL) cholesterol in our bodies. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Walking can also have a positive impact on depression. People who walk report a lower level of depression. One very credible study of women who were depressed and started to walk showed that the women in the depression control group who did not walk had a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score of 13.5 points at the beginning of the study, and they still had a score of 12.5 points at the end of the 12-week study. The women who were depressed and walked, however, had their BDI scores improve from an average of 14.81 at the beginning of the study to only 3.27 by the end of the 12-week study. That is a huge difference. Another study showed that when people between the ages of 60 and 65 walked on a regular basis, they had a significantly lower risk of developing both cognitive impairment and dementia. Reducing the risk of dementia is a good thing. Walking definitely helps prevent heart disease. People have known that to be true for a long time. What people didn’t know to be true until recently was that walking helped patients recovering from certain cancers survive longer. No one quite understands why this might be true, but the studies seem credible and the results seem clear. For prostate cancer, one study showed that patients who walked 90 minutes a week had an almost 50 percent lower mortality risk. Another study showed that for women recovering from breast cancer, regular walking reduced the relative rate of both recurrence and mortality by about 50 percent. Walking also seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Our bodies clearly function better when we have walking as a regular part of our lives. Another entirely unexpected benefit from walking is that it can help prevent the common cold -- and another credible study done at Appalachian State University reported that people who walked benefited by having their cold symptoms for as much as 46 percent less time than non-walkers who also had colds. Again, no one really understands all of those benefits or why they happen. The researchers from the cold symptom study theorized that walking makes the blood flow faster, so it is possible that increased blood flow brought the body’s natural immune system cells to each of the actual virus sites more often. Over time, very smart people will figure out why those benefits exist. Is it better to run or walk? That has been a topic of debate over time. People take both sides. What we know to be true is that both are extremely beneficial to our health, but walking is generally much easier on the body. Walking a mile and running a mile burn about the same total number of calories. All of the health benefits that I just mentioned are triggered by walking. So walking works as well as running, and walking does less incidental damage. Walking tones muscles and makes them leaner and more efficient. Walking also can create feel-good chemicals -- endorphins -- in the brain. Walking often creates a very nice set of experiences. We can walk in groups. Walking can be very social. We can walk to explore and we can walk to learn. I love walking through neighborhoods and cities because I see the world around me much better and more completely than the world I see when I just drive by in my car. Walking has given me the gift of my town. Walking is a good thing. George "