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The Surprising, Little-Known Benefits of a Brisk Walk

On “Move Right Mondays” we talk about the benefits of natural movement, as opposed to expensive gym memberships with complicated equipment and workout regimens. Those things have their place, but it’s been my observation that most people don’t normally benefit from that kind of activity as much as they benefit from more natural movements.

Why Gym-based Exercise Comes Up Short

For example:

  • A gym membership starts as a Christmas present or a New Year’s resolution, but by Valentine’s Day, the treadmills are empty again.
  • Their trip to the gym starts from a place of wanting to look a certain way or be “more healthy,” but that motivation doesn’t carry them through to making it a consistent lifestyle habit.
  • Too many gyms tend to focus on exercises that emphasize a handful of the important muscle groups. If you’re under pressure to “bulk up,” you are likely not getting a balanced program that strengthens and tones your whole body evenly.
  • Some people who do invest in a gym membership have a hard time adjusting their lifestyle to fit the new obligation. Going to the gym typically takes a couple of hours out of your daily routine, when you include drive time, changing, showering, and so on. In order to fit it into your daily life, you have to take out something else, and most people just don’t. That’s why gyms stay quiet most of the year.

Working out at the gym requires a commitment. For most people, it’s just not a high enough priority.

That’s why I emphasize simple, high-impact exercises that you can do anywhere and enjoy significant health benefits. Your whole body benefits from these exercises, not just a single muscle group.

For example, consider the benefits of a brisk walk:

  • you increase your body temperature and burn calories
  • you activate the muscles of your core, legs, torso, and shoulders
  • you elevate your heart rate, exercising the heart muscle
  • you pump oxygen through your whole body via the circulatory system
  • you flush toxins out of your body through your lymphatic system

There’s no one piece of equipment at the gym that will do all that, especially since the equipment is usually designed to isolate muscle groups instead of developing them in concert with each other.

Among the items on this list, I want to give attention to the last one about flushing out toxins. There’s a gem of a health benefit hidden inside it, that people tend to overlook.

Exercise and Sewage Processing

Most people don’t think much about lymph nodes until they hear about someone developing lymphoma or lymphatic cancer. The lymph nodes are part of a system of waste handling facilities in your body, absorbing toxic cells and isolating them from the rest of your organs. They are an amazing network of ducts and drainage pipes, starting with your tonsils and running all through your abdomen, down into your lower pelvis. Your spleen is the control center, and your appendix is (or was, depending on whether you have yours) a powerful intestinal filter. explains:

“Lymph nodes provide antigens for purifying fluids containing anything from allergens to cancer cells. That fluid is simply called lymph. There is more lymph in your body than blood, but unlike blood, there is no pump for lymph.”

Remember all that junk food you used to eat (I’m going to assume you don’t do that anymore)? All the chemicals they use to flavor and preserve that kind of food ended up in your lymph nodes, along with the chemicals you breathed in while cleaning the house, and the ones you spread on your skin.

But, where does it go from there?

Most of it runs down into your liver (the biggest filter in your body) and your kidneys, where it mixes into urine. What doesn’t flow into those two systems backs up in the plumbing. Swollen lymph nodes occur when they have accumulated too much of the waste products from your body and don’t dispose of them properly. But like mentioned, there is no pump to push fluid through the system, like your heart does for your blood. This is especially important to realize as we head into the season of parties with lots of sugary processed foods.

So, what can we do to flush the system?

Walk It Out

Walking briskly is just one simple way to get your lymphatic system moving (rebounding is also a great way to flush out the lymphatic system, if you have a mini-trampoline handy). The rhythmic movement, coupled with the pull gravity, draws the fluids down through the system. Now, it’s worth pointing out that casually wandering the shopping mall does not have the same value as a brisk, high-impact walking, the kind that stimulates all your body’s systems to action.

Sounds simple enough, right?

It is.

Effective exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. I teach simple activities that benefit your body in multiple ways. Take a look at my “Move Right Monday” exercises, if you haven’t before. I’m hearing from people all the time who are getting a great deal of value from those simple exercises in their balance, flexibility, stamina, and posture.

Tonight, take a brisk walk around the neighborhood and jot down how you feel afterward. You might be surprised at how refreshing it is. Maybe take a picture and post it on Facebook with a comment about how your walk is making you feel.

Here at Fundamental Health Solutions, we’re the doctors that teach you to move right, eat right, think right, and live right, and I’m so glad you’re here with me each week. If you live in the Naples area, watch my Facebook page for the next “Fundamental Foods” workshop, held on a Thursday night at my office, which is right behind the YMCA and Sports Authority. I hope you’ll join us.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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