According to Ayurveda, walking is a healthy exercise for all body types. In recent years researchers have found the old-fashioned stroll produces amazing results. It can lower your bad cholesterol, increase cardiovascular fitness and stop bone loss.
For maximum benefits, gear your walking to your body’s individual needs. Ideally one should stay within your body’s range of comfort. Listen to what your body tells you. If you feel any strain or discomfort, ease up and get back into your comfort zone.
Most experts today recommend 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity 5 – 6 days of the week to see health benefits. Brisk walking is considered a type of moderate-level physical activity.
Ayurveda identifies ten body types, made up of different combinations of the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha.
If you are a mentally active, vata type, be careful not to over-extend yourself. A 15 – 20 minute walk is ideal. If you are trying to fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day, break it into two sessions so as not to aggravate your vata.
If you are a pitta type you will probably feel bored unless you can look at beautiful scenery along the way — or unless you feel a bit of a challenge. Pitta types need longer, more vigorous stretches of exercise. Try walking for 30 to 45 minutes at a fast pace, even doing race -walking if it is comfortable. But avoid exercising during the hotter hours of the day.
Kapha types need to find hilly terrain or try fast-paced aerobic walking for 45 – 60 minutes.
Both kapha and pitta types can increase aerobic activity by swinging their arms as they walk. But beware of carrying weights, as that can cause ligament damage. If you want to build up your arm muscles, check into weight training.
No matter what your body type, you can gain much more from your walk if you stretch before and after you walk. Yoga exercise or 5 minutes of Surya Namaskara can be beneficial for neuromuscular integration. The more prepared your body is, the more effective your walk will be. It helps to warm up your muscles before making demands on them and the cool-down increases flexibility.
Benefits of Walking
Regular moderate physical exercise has been shown to lower the risk of developing dementia.
Walking has been shown to reduce risks of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.
Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps to strengthen muscles and bones, thus decreasing your risk of developing osteoporosis and arthritis.
Walking may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer.
Walking increases the number of calories your body uses, which helps to benefit weight loss .
Walking for 30 minutes three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47% (as measured with a standard depression questionnaire).
Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to significantly increase cardio-respiratory fitness.
A visit to an Ayurvedic expert experienced in the technique of Ayurvedic Pulse Assessment can help you to more precisely pinpoint your body type and current mind/body balance.