Movement as Medicine: Walking on beaches and cobblestones, Puerto Vallarta’s Superfood

Do you know that the body needs movement like it needs food, air, and water? Contrary to popular opinion, movement is not optional. Lack of movement, like lack of food, air, or water, will lead to pain, illness, and disease.

Movement is the most important missing factor in human health today, says Katy Bowman. Bowman is an expert on human biomechanics and the author of “Move Your DNA.” She says we are “starving” ourselves with more convenience and less movement.

Does this perspective resonate with you? Are you looking for ways to move more? I would like to suggest an easy way to get started: walking (or walking more).

This tropical paradise that we live in gives us many opportunities for walking. On its streets, beaches, and trails.

Are you intimidated by Puerto Vallarta’s famous cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks? Are you afraid that you will trip or fall? It’s true, you may need to work on improving your balance. That’s a good topic for another column.

But uneven surfaces like these are good for your feet. They stimulate the nerves on the bottoms of your feet. These nerves help move your body and keep you balanced.

Walking barefoot on the sand is even better, according Dr. Emily Splichal. Because our feet are no longer confined by shoes. Dr. Emily Splichal is a podiatrist and an expert in human movement and surface science.

Walking is available to almost everyone. It doesn’t need a gym or a coach or a class.

Studies show that walking is one of the best things we can do to improve our health and increase our longevity. And it has one of the lowest rates of injury of any exercise. Walking also improves memory and cognitive function. It could cut the risk of dementia by 40%. Walking reduces your stress level and improves your mood.

You can start with small doses. Walking for 30 minutes per day, 5 times per week, can reduce your risk of dying by almost 33%.

Do your feet hurt? Is it hard for you to walk or imagine walking? You may need to address your foot pain before you start walking any distance.

Here is my favorite foot exercise that address several sources of foot pain. It’s called “short foot”.

Short foot works on strengthening and activating the muscles in the bottom of your foot. I borrowed this version of “short foot” from Dr. Splichal because it’s the best I’ve seen.

SHORT FOOT

1. Start seated or standing with ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, ears stacked.

2. Breathe in. Breathe out. Become aware of your breath.

3. Keep both feet on the ground but focus on your right foot.

4. Become aware of your “foot tripod.” 3 points on the bottom of your foot: below your big toe, below your little toe, and in the center of your heel.

5. Press your big toe into the ground as if you were pressing on a button.

6. Release and repeat 3, 6, 9 times.

7. Repeat on the left foot.

In summary, walking may be the easiest way to start to nourish your body with more movement. And increase your health and longevity. You may need to address balance or foot pain issues before you start walking.

[Medical disclaimer: This information presented here is for educational purposes only. It is not substitute for the professional judgment of a medical professional.]