Take a Hike

Why walking may be your best exercise

By R.E. Graswich
October 2019

Here’s one cheap and easy way for sports fans to improve their chances of living longer and healthier lives: Park on 15th Street and walk to an event at Golden 1 Center. The secret to longevity can be found in each step.

October may be the perfect month for walking in Sacramento. The blazing summer heat has eased. The dreary skies and soaking winter rains have not arrived. Pollen counts are reasonable. And the benefits of a hearty walk improve each time a new medical research study is published.

“We were created to be physiologically active creatures,” says Dr. Jason Gritti, who practices internal medicine at Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center. “Just getting up and moving and walking every day, that’s beneficial. When we are inactive, it doesn’t take long for our bodies to start breaking down.”

Gritti describes himself as “passionate” about walking. His personal exercise regimen covers a wide spectrum and includes gym equipment, weights and cycling. But pound for pound, few physical activities beat the timeless and sublime activity of placing one foot in front of the other and repeating.

“There’s a research study that I often quote to patients, and it shows that 50 percent of your health is exercise,” he says. “Anywhere from 30 to 40 percent is diet. These numbers don’t apply to everyone, but they apply to the majority of people in terms of lowering mortality and disease rates.”

Sports fans are perfect candidates to improve their health by walking. Fans study team trends and statistical nuances. They know—and endlessly discuss—why some players perform better than others. Vast amounts of research confirm the benefits of physical activity. Those studies should be catnip for sports fans. Walking provides an opportunity to put those passions to healthy use.

For example, research shows 150 minutes of exercise per week can add years to your life. Gritti can break those minutes into categories relevant to weight, height and body mass, and estimate how much longer an obese, slightly obese or not obese person can expect to live if they embrace the elixir of a daily, substantial, brisk walk.

 

“For all the interest in olive oil and vitamins C and D, it comes down to this: Walking helps you live longer,” he says.

Walking performs countless positive chores for the body. It improves circulation and balance, strengthens joints and bones, slows memory loss, lowers risk of Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, assists with mood swings and sleep, boosts the immune system and helps the body combat cancer. Not bad for something that’s free and always available.

Here’s another something that’s free: Sacramento Heritage Walking Tours. The app connects browsers to three walking tours curated to cover the J and K street commercial boulevards, the neighborhood around City Hall, and the politically charged sidewalks surrounding the Capitol building.

The tours are self-guided via smartphone. They provide insight into the history, housing, construction, preservation and money side of various landmarks. Along with this historical treat, Sac Heritage Walking Tours can help keep you healthy.

Walking knows few boundaries, but there’s no such thing as a perfect number of steps. Gritti does not encourage patients to set records.

“What we want is for you to look forward to walking everyday,” he says. “People have different passions. You should do what you like to do. Any exercise is better than none.”

Yes, and every time I visit Golden 1 Center, there is parking available on 15th Street.

R.E. Graswich can be reached at regraswich@icloud.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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