The human body is made up of zillions of cells and each cell needs oxygen and nutrients to survive and function. The venous blood (which has a lower concentration of oxygen and a higher level of carbon dioxide), has to return to the heart so that it can be pumped back to the lungs to filter the carbon dioxide out and obtain oxygen.
Gravity helps in returning old blood from the organs situated above the level of the heart, but for the lower part of the body, the only pump that sends the blood back to the heart is the (musculovenous pump), which is in the calf muscles. This pump only starts pumping blood if we press the feet against resistance more than seven times – That is the pump only functions when we start walking. There are valves in the veins that determine the unilateral direction of blood flow from the lower limbs to the heart.
If we fail to walk and exercise, then there is the risk of increased hydrostatic pressure stretching the valves in the veins causing the formation of varicose veins, and if not treated, can cause damage to the skin and soft tissues of the lower extremities resulting in pigmentation, swelling, hardening of the skin, eczema and finally, ulcer formation around the lower legs and ankles.
If we examine the behavior of people in the more primitive societies, they are either walking or squatting or laying down most of the time. We never find these people sitting on chairs or standing up for long hours or driving with the cruise control, which slows down the function of the musculovenous pump in the legs.
There is also evidence that exercise reduces the amount of low-density cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood, thus reducing the risk of narrowing, blockage of the arteries (atherosclerosis), peripheral vascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Furthermore, exercise improves your muscle strength, increases flexibility of joints and reduces osteoporosis by keeping your bones strong.
The release of endorphins (natural morphine) by exercise elevates your mood and reduces stress and increases brain power. It can also help you lose weight and give you more confidence in your appearance.
So What Are You Waiting For? These Legs Are For Walking
-Hormoze A. Goudarzi, MD