Let’s walk regularly

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

– Paul D. White, American physician and cardiologist

Do you walk everyday as a form of exercise? I salute those of you who do so. Do you know that regular walking is good for you and that it ensures your legs remain strong when you grow old?

This week, I am inspired to talk about the benefits of walking as a form of regular exercise courtesy of a WhatsApp message I received on a group chat. According to the message, when we are old, our legs must always remain strong and one of the ways to keep our legs strong is to walk regularly.

The message tells recipients that among the signs of longevity are strong leg muscles. “If you do not move your legs for two weeks, your leg strength will decrease by 10 years,” it said, adding that when your leg muscles are weak, they would take a long time to recover, even with rehabilitation and exercises.

This reminded me of my late father. He used to walk a lot and always took the bus. One day, he fell ill and decided to move back to Sibu, my hometown. There, he was wrongly advised to stay in bed most of the time. Within three months, he could not walk and his health deteriorated quickly, leading to his demise.

The WhatsApp message I received went on to say that ageing starts from the feet upwards.

“Only when the feet are healthy, then the convention current of blood flows smoothly, so people who have strong leg muscles will definitely have a strong heart.

“Although our feet and legs will gradually age with time, exercising them is a life-long task.

“Only by strengthening the legs, can one prevent further ageing.

“Please walk for at least 30 to 40 minutes daily to ensure your legs receive sufficient exercise and to ensure your leg muscles remain healthy.”

Although I do not have any medical knowledge, this sounds like good advice to all my friends, young and old, and family members. That is why I am sharing it with you all today.

One person who has weak legs is my ageing mother, a dementia patient. In her early 80s, she could not walk far. Like my late father, she used to walk a lot and took the bus when she was younger.

It is now a chore for her to walk the few steps from the bathroom to her bedroom. I tell my niece to make sure she does not hit her head on the floor.

My best friend has long advised me to watch out for my mother’s weakening leg muscles. She said her late mother also could not walk towards the end of her life.

I used to bring my mother to the coffee shop for breakfast when she was well. Now, I bring home her breakfast.

Recently, I walked from my house to the coffee shop in my neighbourhood for breakfast. It was raining heavily but I did not let the rain stop me from walking. The song “Walking in The Rain” kept playing in my head as I recalled the message about the importance of strong leg muscles as we grew older.

I used to walk a lot — in the rain and under the sun — when I was young. If you come across a picture of me in primary six, you will not be able to recognise me. I was very slim then, a far cry from how I look today, thanks to regular walking.

Although my parents gave me 10 cents for the bus trip to my school, SUDC No. 4 in Oya Road, and another 10 cents for the trip home to Sibu town, there were times when I ended up walking home with my elder sister and friends.

It was a long way to walk, but it was a lot of fun. We passed through Tiong Hua Road and some other roads and used shortcuts through the rubber plantations and jungles. There was no fear of being kidnapped or assaulted along the way. The world then seemed to be more peaceful and less violent than how it is today.

Because of our busy schedules, many of us today tend to lead sedentary lifestyles and we seldom exercise. Since I realises the importance of regular walking to leg strength, I have decided to walk at least 30 to 40 minutes a day. I will try to leave my car at home when I go for breakfast in my neighbourhood coffee shop.

My friends, I hope you will also keep your legs strong by walking regularly.