Today, activity trackers like Fitbit, Jawbone or even phone apps are all the rage. These trackers help individuals keep track of their daily activities by monitoring the distance walked, calorie consumption and, in some cases, heartbeat and quality of sleep. Never before have people had such obtainable access to their basic personal health information on a day-to-day basis.
One of the easiest ways to stay in shape, live a healthy lifestyle and get some use out of those activity trackers, is walking. According to Physical Activity Guidelines of America, adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. That means an adult walking for at least 30 minutes, five days a week can reach that goal, while also reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase longevity.
Engaging in regular physical activity like walking is one of the most important things that people of all ages can do to improve and maintain their health. A few of the many benefits of walking include strengthening bones and muscles, improving balance and coordination, helping maintain a healthy weight and even improving a person’s mood. Another great benefit of walking is that it requires minimal to no equipment. Taking a 30 minute walk is as easy as going outside.
Health consumers are confronted with lots of choices when considering how to maintain or improve their health. Many of these options might be considered “alternative” to traditional western medicine, or could be thought of as “holistic.” Holistic health care is sometimes described as care that addresses body, mind, and spirit, and seeks a healthy balance. For the interested consumer, evaluating strategies which they might not find at their local doctor’s office or hospital can be challenging.
The spectrum of holistic strategies is very wide. The most commonly used in the US are manual therapies such as chiropractic and massage, supplements such as herbs and nutrients, stress management tools like meditation, and traditional healing tools which may be thousands of years old like acupuncture. Surveys have shown that Americans utilize such approaches in large numbers. They may find out about such options from friends, relatives, the internet or their usual health care providers.
Research into the effectiveness of holistic therapies is being funded and overseen by the National Institutes of Health, and careful reviews are being written and made available online by other health professionals. Still navigating the world of holistic therapies can be difficult and confusing.
Here are some things to consider if you are contemplating something new.
- It is always prudent to consult your usual health care provider when contemplating nontraditional strategies. Although most holistic approaches to health care are safe, there may be risks such as combining herbs with medication. At the very least, it is good to keep your health care provider in the loop – you might also educate them in the process!
- Doctors are trained to “first do no harm.” This principle applies to any therapy. It is up to you to communicate about your experience to your provider, holistic or traditional. Trust your experience – can you tell that the therapy is helping? If so, that’s great. If not, perhaps it is not for you.
- Finally, there is no substitute for living well. Eating nutritious food in moderate quantities, getting more physical activity, working on your relationships, and cultivating a positive attitude are all very powerful and holistic strategies.