Dr. Andrew Weil, national author and renowned Integrative Medicine expert, is passionate about walking. After all, it can help manage weight, improve mood and help ease depression, boost the immune system, maintain mental efficiency, strengthen heart, lungs, and muscles, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, and prevent osteoporosis.
But it’s not very much fun if your feet hurt. Co-author of "Walking: The Ultimate Exercise for Optimum Health," Weil took his enthusiasm a step further and collaborated on a walking shoe design to keep us walking without pain. For example, the summer sandal line uses a feature called Aided Motion System, a technology that neutralizes rough surfaces so you can maintain a healthy and rooted balance as you walk. (To see the whole line, visit www.weilbeing.com).
We caught up with Dr. Weil recently to review what is so great about walking, when we could be doing zumba, core fusion, or yoga.
TA: Why is walking the best exercise?
Dr. Weil: It satisfies the requirement for aerobic activity if done briskly, makes use of all muscles, promotes coordination and balance, carries least risk of injury, can be done throughout life, and uses the body in a way it's perfectly designed for.
TA: What are several ways people can maximize walking for exercise?
Dr. Weil: Get a good pair of walking shoes, include some uphill walking, walk at a pace brisk enough to increase rate of breathing, walk with friends, and walk in beautiful surroundings.
TA: You wear so many hats already as a physician, author, and trailblazer in Integrative Medicine. What prompted you to get into the shoe business?
Dr. Weil: It was a meeting with Phil Vasyli, who convinced me that his orthopedic designs are cutting edge. His philosophy of footwear is consistent with my ideas about health and integrative medicine. I saw a chance to co-create a line of orthopedically correct, environmentally friendly, stylish footwear for both men and women, different from anything else on the market.
TA: How are these new shoes different than what is currently on the market?\
Dr. Weil: They incorporate a novel orthopedic design that corrects the commonest misalignments of the foot, allowing for proper movement and balance. Most orthopedic footwear doesn't look good, nor does it use environmentally correct materials.
TA: With such a busy schedule, when and where do you usually walk?
Dr. Weil: My two dogs (Rhodesian ridgebacks) take me for long walks every morning, just after I have breakfast, and often after dinner too. In the summer, I live on an island in British Columbia and have a huge forest with great trails just outside my door, as well as a beach. In winters in Tucson, I walk around my neighborhood and also in desert washes. I try to walk every day. When I'm on the road, I do the best I can. I love walking around New York City and San Francisco.
Look on the internet at http://walkers.meetup.com to find others who love walking, with whom you could enjoy putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t forget, the farthest journey begins with one step.
Judy Kirkwood walks with her dog Flip in Delray Beach, Florida.