Walking is a wonderful way to maintain fitness and health. It is low impact, does not require any specialized equipment or training, it can be done at your own pace, and any time of day. It’s a great form of exercise for anyone, of any age, even those who are elderly or overweight.
Walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise, because you carry your own weight as you walk.
Benefits of walking are numerous and include:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness
- Increased lung fitness
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Stronger bones
- Improved balance
- Reduced body fat
- Lower body mass index (BMI), an indicator of obesity
- Increased muscle strength
- Increased endurance
- Lower fasting blood sugar (glucose)
- Better memory and cognitive function
- Lower stress and improved mood
- Reduced risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers
- Improved management of high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, joint and muscle pain or stiffness, and diabetes
- Longer life
Even a 30-minute brisk walk several days a week can provide health benefits. ‘Brisk’ means you can talk but not sing, and you may be breathing a little heavier than usual.
Tips to get more out of every walk include:
- Walk whenever you can
- Use a fitness tracker and aim for at least 10,000 steps each day
- Walk a little faster
- Take walk breaks throughout the day
- Use high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Instead of walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes straight, try alternating between 30-second to 1-minute bursts of faster walking, followed by 1 to 2 minutes of a slower walking recovery
- Walk uphill
- Walking usually does not pose a health risk, but always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
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