As I was walking the three-mile loop I sometimes take into downtown Park Ridge (which the locals call uptown because it sits on summit avenue), I started thinking about walking and a blog article I recently read – How Walking May Lower Breast Cancer Risk. Something I found particularily interesting in the article was that researchers have data they’ve collected over the past twenty years in which they have cross-tabulated exercise regimens and medical records from various groups of women. From this data, they have  determined that the women who walked at least seven hours per week, (which broke down to an hour a day) had 14 percent less risk of developing breast cancer than those women who walked for fewer than three hours per week. The researchers found this to be a significant reduction in risk.  Isn’t that amazing? (Here is a link to the article)

But again, I started thinking… why aren’t there more campaigns to motivate people, especially women to walk – everyday, for at least an hour, for their health? I’m thinking of women who don’t have any other choices for exercise because of time or resources or whatever. Walking is something we all know how to do and it needs no special equipment or place. Just one hour each day out of twenty-four seems like such a minimum amount of time and effort, but such a do-able minimum, especially when it means staving off cancer – of any kind.

I know in Chicago, in the summertime there are all kinds of breast cancer walks to raise money and awareness about the disease. The walks are motivating and fun, they usually include a couple months of training, and they get a lot of people involved, but what about when the walk ends?

I have some friends who regularly participate in one breast cancer walk per year. They walk for relatives and friends, raising awareness and money  for research. Preparing for the walks always motivates them to get out and exercise. But, when the big, fun walk is finished, they are done walking until the next year when the walk rolls around and  training begins again. I admire their  participation and commitment, so I make a point to donate as well as offer support and cheering on the day of the walk. In my mind, there is nothing wrong with groups of inspired people raising millions of dollars for cancer research and spending the summer training for the three-day, 21 mile feat. Somehow though, I can’t help feeling the message gets lost on those women (or men), who don’t keep it up – year round, forever and ever like brushing their teeth, for prevention and health.

It goes without saying –  I mean no disrespect to any of the breast cancer walk participants, or to organizations and what they do and have done to raise awareness. They are the ones on the front lines of the battle raising the money by their actions for the research, I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. I also don’t mean to sound judgmental, I know how hard it is for people to find the time to fit everything we need to do into 24 short hours. But, I do care very much about my friends. I care that breast cancer runs in their families and I wish somehow they would get the message to keep up the walking, and walk EVERY day, winter, spring and fall, so cancer stays away from their lives. I wish there was some follow up and education from these organizations to motivate  healthy people to think about the idea that exercise and  daily walking are like taking a vitamin – only better. And now, research is finally starting to back that up with more detailed information.

Once a  PE teacher, always a PE teacher I guess. For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about how I wish there was behavior change from the walks, and maybe there is for some. These organizations do so much already, and they are so good at it, I can’t help but want them to do more.

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Let's talk about that walk...

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