#3: Walk! (54! non-drug ways to lower blood pressure)

About 15 years ago, I made a really wise choice. I used to take the bus to work every day. I live about a 45 minute walk from work. So, it’s about 3 miles or 5 km. I thought for a long time, that this was just too far to walk. Our Saskatchewan (Canada) weather varies from-40C to +40C (-40 F to 104 F) so it can be challenge. My brother in law who is 10 years younger than me was walking to work, and although his walk was 20 minutes shorter, he kept encouraging me to try.

My weight was edging up and in desperation I thought I needed to do something. I decided to start walking home. I remember the first day I did it: I walked really slowly, and it took me over an hour and 15 minutes. When I got home I was so hot and tired, I had to lay down for 20 minutes to recover. I had this enormous thermal burn feeling, much like I remembered experiencing in my 20s when I played sports hard for a couple of hours.

For a month, I kept at it, walking home from work each day. I was often tempted by the bus, but I continued to keep at it, walking the distance. Then, we had a bus strike. I really had no other way to get to work, so I decided if I could walk home, I might as well also walk to work. So, I started to walk to work. The strike ended, and I continued to walk both ways.

Now 10+ years later, I don’t experience the thermal burn and think nothing of walking both ways. I even try running it in nice weather, and have done the distance in 30 minutes. It has become a special time for me; to watch nature, trees, and to think about life. I happened to be blessed in that about half of my walk goes through a bird sanctuary, with a nice lake. I’ve been blessed with arctic terns, muskrats, squirrels, gulls, geese, cornets and rabbits. In winter, when it becomes pitch black, I’m often walking in almost total darkness, and it’s fun to see the rabbits that scamper along in the park.

Many days, I decide on courses of action on the way to work. My walks have become a time that I put my mind to different problems that are facing me, and a time to talk to myself, and to strategize new ideas.

The impact on my health was amazing. First, I dropped 30 pounds in weight, from 180 pounds to 150 pounds. Then, my legs really hardened up with nice solid muscles. I felt so much better. I now really miss the walk, if for some reason I can’t do it.

I still take the bus if the temperature goes above 37C (98 F) or if drops below -37C (-34 F). I also won’t walk in thunderstorms with lighting. Over the course of the year, there are usually just 5 or 6 days that I end up taking the bus one way or the other.

I have noticed that half an hour after a vigorous walk of 45 minutes,my blood pressure usually drops 5 or so points. Of course, it is only a temporary drop, but studies seem to indicate that walking is an excellent endeavor.

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