One of the most common New Year’s resolutions each year is to get in shape and lose weight, however, many of these resolutions fail before January ends! This time start the year fresh with one simple habit that will improve your health and longevity: take a 20-minute walk every day for the whole month.
A daily walk will cleanse your body, boost your energy, and improve digestion. Practice consistently and by the end of the month, it will become a new healthy habit that will serve you for the rest of your life!
Here’s why: In my two decades of investigating the daily activities of centenarians, I found that everyone walked for at least 30 minutes a day, and most walked more than an hour. Aside from the proven benefits for your heart, walking is the perfect gentle exercise for cleansing your lymphatic system, increasing your circulation, and improving your digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract.
Your body is naturally equipped with a self-cleaning process. But too much sugar, caffeine, processed foods, stress, environmental toxins, and too little exercise can slow the body’s natural detox function to a slow pace. Your body will process and eliminate many of the toxins that enter it, but overflow gets stored in the liver, lungs, kidneys, fat cells, intestines, blood stream, and skin – which can result in chronic illnesses down the line. Physical activity unclogs your body’s systems, helping it to eliminate wastes more efficiently. Even though walking is a gentle exercise, it is still enough of a physical activity to enhance bodily functions and help detoxify the body.
The directions say 20 minutes a day, but of course, you can always increase the time to 30 minutes or more, as long as the exercise is gentle on your body.
Stay on track
Now, to really stay on track, ask yourself these questions every day. It will help you stay motivated to keep a written record of daily answers.
• Are you doing 20 minutes every day? How was the experience? Did you look forward to it or did you resist it?
• How did you feel today compared to yesterday? Also, look at your overall energy level. If you have more energy, it indicates that the exercise is having the desired effect of cleansing your body.
• What are the obstacles that are keeping you from exercising 20 minutes every day?
Consider having a friend or family member hold you accountable for your daily exercise; they can simply ask you how it’s going every few days. Better yet, have a friend do it with you!
How to make it happen: An answer for every excuse
• Missed a day? If you miss a day or two, don’t feel like a failure! Forgive yourself and examine the reasons behind the break. What could you do differently next time? Then, recommit and continue where you left off the next day. Never give up!
• No time! First, see if you can find any wiggle room in your schedule. If time truly is an issue, find ways to work exercise into your schedule as it is. Park farther from your destination so that you will be walking ten minutes to and from. Walk to your errands. Take the stairs whenever you can.
• Winter is too cold. Bundle up, put on your boots if necessary, and take a walk, enjoying the winter nature. Another option is to walk indoors around a local mall. Also, you can try a different indoor activity.
• Not a fan of walking. If walking is just not for you, get your blood circulating with a daily 20 minutes of dancing, cardio, yoga, swimming, or other indoor activity that really interests you. An all-around excellent choice is tai chi, a gentle practice that can be done at any age and improves cardiovascular capacity, cultivates balance, lowers blood pressure, and relieves arthritis. Find a teacher in your area or learn with an instructional DVD. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to warm up before and cool down after exercise to avoid wear and tear.
• Too out of shape. If you are recovering from an illness or just feel completely out of shape, begin gently by exercising only five minutes a day — but do it every day. Incrementally increase the time by five minutes each week. By week 4, you’ll be up to 20 minutes.
On January 31: If you have been walking every day, you have most likely created a new habit.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected] To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.