The importance of walking as a form of physical activity for men’s health
I grew up in Scotland in the 1960s and 70s. There was a culture of heavy alcohol usage and the diet in those years contained large amounts of ‘stodge’ which included deep fried stuff, pastries and what was known as suet. Mum, like most Scot mums, cooked with suet which is the raw, hard fat of beef or mutton found around the loins and kidneys. Throw cigarettes into the mix then sit by the fire and watch the telly for hours. Scotland had one of the highest incidences of coronary heart disease and indeed this claimed my dad suddenly at the age of 51. Our coronary arteries are critical to our survival yet are uniquely vulnerable to the deleterious effects of cigarettes, inactivity, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
There are few if any secrets. The answers to premature death from what is correctly known as ischaemic heart disease lie largely in the realms of diet and exercise. Genetics does play a role but there is not an inevitable slippery slope. Bottom line is that statistically those who eat sensibly and exercise at least moderately experience a healthier body, improved fitness and exercise tolerance and suffer fewer premature deaths from degenerative cardiovascular disease than those who adopt a lifestyle which features excess body mass, gasping with minimal effort, high sugar levels and industrial-grade blood pressure. But you can talk about this stuff till you are blue in the face and the paramedics are on their way. To quote the shoemakers – Just do it.
Dr Bill Boyd
Australian Medical Association Queensland
Dr Bill Boyd is a Heart Foundation Walking virtual walker and in 2016 walked the Cairns to Townsville leg (340kms) of the Bruce highway over 10 days to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity. Dr Boyd plans to continue his awareness campaign by walking the whole Bruce highway over the next three years.