Yes, indeed, walking is a healthy habit. It increases your lung capacity, strengthens your cardiovascular system, lowers your blood pressure, and even brightens your mood. It clears your mind when your thoughts are scattered, eases your tensions when life has run amuck, and gives you the quiet time you need to dream truly big dreams. Oh, it also serves one other important function:
It boosts your levels of vitamin D.
That is, if the sun is shining. The primary way we form vitamin D is by synthesizing it after exposure to the sun. People in northern climates, where the winters are harsh, often must use vitamin D supplements during the dark days of winter. Recent research also shows that even people living in sun-drenched Hawaii are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency. The reason it's important is due to the vital role vitamin D plays in our health. It's previously been shown to fight against cancer, autoimmune disease, stroke, muscle weakness, and many other ailments. Now, new research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University indicates it may also protect against peripheral artery disease.
Peripheral artery disease is caused by a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries of the legs, causing difficulty walking. Dr. Michal Melamed and her team analyzed the data of over 4,800 people who had participated in a national health survey. They found a direct correlation between the levels of vitamin D and the occurrence of peripheral artery disease.
Those with the lowest levels of vitamin D, after adjusting for age and other co-existing health conditions, were 64% more likely to have peripheral artery disease than those with the highest levels. 64% - it makes a walk in the sunshine look better all the time.To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about vitamin D, including discussions of sources of vitamin D, see this from the Office of Dietary Supplements.