Power walking to health and the green revolution

IT IS that silly period again when people are supposed to make resolutions to improve the quality of their lives.

As is the norm many of us will be flocking to up-market "fitness centres" with new designer gym kits - only to pull out later in the year.

Instead of adopting narcissistic resolutions, we should as South Africans look at ways we can use 2012 as a year in which we contribute to the public good. One of the resolutions that came out of COP17 on climate change included an agreement that will put all countries under the same obligation to control gas emissions.

It is important that we ordinary South Africans see this agreement as not only affecting the government or business but as a call for all of us to contribute to the fight against global warming and climate change.

The green revolution is upon us. Gone are the days when we regarded green activists are "tree huggers" who run away from their adult responsibilities.

Making projections about what will be hot in South Africa this year, trends analyst Dion Chang pointed out that gymming and jogging would become passed as people take to power walking.

The Wikipedia defines power walking as "an act of walking with a speed at the upper end of the natural range for the walking gait (7kmh to 9kmh). At least one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times."

Some of the advantages power walking has over jogging, which Wikipedia points out, include the fact that power walking has significantly less impact on the joints than jogging. This should be music to the ears of those with creaky knees - like yours truly - who find jogging a painful exercise.

Power walking is also supposed to improve one's energy level as well as mood. It is also supposed to reduce stress and improve one's sleeping pattern.

Most importantly power walking is said to reduce the risk of heart disease and minimise high blood pressure.

My experience is that walking also creates a spirit of camaraderie. I have seen strangers who power walk waving enthusiastically at each other - with the words "way to go" hanging in the air.

Normally whenever people want to distress they go outdoors "to get some fresh air."

Power walking provides one with the opportunity to be "part of nature" at no cost nogal. Its free and it can be done anywhere.

According to scientists walking releases the "feel good" hormones endorphin, serotonin and dopamine. So not only are power walkers healthy but also a happy lot.

Research has also shown that walking contributes to reducing carbon emissions.

It is estimated that one person saves 0.589kg of carbon a day by walking and taking the stairs instead of the lift.

Speaking at COP17 on climate change in Durban last year President Jacob Zuma said it was important for the world to realise that economic growth could be achieve in tandem with sustainable management of our natural resources.

As ordinary citizens we can make our contribution in the fight against global warming and climate change by becoming the shock troopers of the green revolution.