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Salena Lettera

Designer Italian shoes not necessary for good health

Everyone knows that Italians create fabulous shoes.  But did you also know that they have a longer life expectancy than Americans?  After having just spent two weeks in Italy, I think I know their secret. 
They walk - everywhere. On cobblestones. Up hills. Through old ruins. In heels. With grocery bags. Scaling flights of stairs that would make Rocky wince. From school children to grandmothers, they walk. A LOT.

So I realized, as I dragged my tuchus up and down hills and stairs, that the walking obviously keeps them healthy and in shape. Well, that and the pasta they eat twice a day. But let's concentrate on the walking...they do it and they live long. Period. There's got to be a connection, right?

Right. Research has proven that people who walk live longer and are said to have greater mental health. It's low impact, a natural activity, doesn't require special equipment and the list of health benefits is long. Walkers are at lower risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases that kill. It lowers blood pressure, reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes, lessens joint pressure, strengthens your heart, improves mood, lowers cholesterol, decreases stress, helps breathing, combats depression, aids weight control, improves circulation, slows decline in memory, improves sleep, helps prevent osteoporosis and boosts your immune system. And who can't use a little boost?

The best way to incorporate walking into your daily life is to do it in baby steps. Take the stairs when you can. Instead of sitting in your truck, get out and get some fresh air for 30 minutes. Park in the back row instead of in the Princess Parking up front. Take a quick stroll before you head in for your shower. Meander with purpose. Your goal should be at least 30 minutes per day, every day. And if you can't fit in 30 continuous minutes, break it into three 10-minute blocks. Everyone has 10 minutes.

The amount of walking I did during this trip convinced me to incorporate more activity into my life if I want to stay healthy. I gotta tell you, it's a real eye-opener when an 80-year old Italian woman carrying grocery bags whizzes right by you. So let's get out there and raise our life expectancy by a few years. I may not be wearing Ferragamo's latest leather stilettos, but I do plan on wearing out my walking shoes well into my nineties!

This is a photo of Civita di Bagnoregio, a town in the Lazio region of Central Italy. It was founded by the Etruscans over 2,500 years ago. Yes, I took the picture. Yes, I walked that footbridge. And yes, it was a killer. But oh, the view and sense of accomplishment when I got to the top!

Follow Salena at www.SalenaLettera.com and email her at salenalettera@gmail.com.