Working in a pharmacy setting, I’m confronted with an overwhelming number of popular questions. Please know that if you have to ask about it, someone else has asked before you (Please don’t be embarrassed to approach your Pharmacist with your concerns). Three of the most common questions: How can I avoid Diabetes? How can I maintain a healthy blood pressure? How can I lower my cholesterol levels? There’s one simple answer to all three – Diet and exercise. But, what else is new? Sometimes, it seems the only thing the doctor can tell you is, “Well, you’d be perfect if you dieted and exercised more”.
While I probably can’t tell you anything new, I can tell you something surprising. Any exercise can lower blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol. However, specific sorts of exercises can help approach each differently. According to medicalnewstoday.com, walking downhill can specifically target blood glucose levels, while walking uphill can improve Triglycerides and overall cholesterol levels. This news came from an Austrian study conducted in 2004, observing the vitals of 45 healthy adults as they walked through the Austrian Alps 3 to 5 days per week. Those who rode a gondola to the top and walked downhill experienced improvement in blood glucose levels, with evidence that the body was metabolising and using sugar more efficiently. Meanwhile, those who walked uphill all lowered both LDL and Triglycerides significantly. All participants in the study lowered their risks of Diabetes and high cholesterol across the board.
Moving from a sedentary lifestyle toward an active one is never easy. There are weaknesses in the body that must be contended with. However, the addition of any physical activity works to lower blood pressure. If walking downhill can lower the risk of Diabetes, what’s to lose? The simple act of walking out the door is a betterment that won’t be regretted.
My endeavor to improve my health for the last time began about four months ago. 20 pounds and 16 inches later, I can safely say that exercise is an investment in my future – one which, through some pain and difficulty, I do not regret. The last 5 years or so, I’ve developed an interest in running. Having a treadmill, however, I never trained outside. Taking the plunge this year and selling my treadmill, I’ve gone from running to exhaustion in less than 1 minute to sustaining a healthy pace outside for up to 1 hour. I encourage everyone to get outside and experience what you may have been missing – at any fitness level. Walk as long as you’re able to comfortably — you’ll get where you want to be with a little bit of patience. A word of warning, though — Walking downhill is tough on the knees. If you have weak knees or are significantly obese, please consider investing in a knee brace. Safety first!
(All exercise programs should be overseen by a physician. They like to hear about your successes, too!)