|What are the Benefits of Walking?|
Walking is a simple, easy, and inexpensive fitness program. Walking can be as easy as a stroll in the park, or it can be as intense as a vigorous hike. Walking is a great choice for a physically active lifestyle, as it can be done almost anywhere and at any time and the only equipment required is a sturdy pair of shoes.
Benefits of Walking
- Cardiovascular/aerobic fitness: Walking at a moderate to brisk pace improves your aerobic fitness by increasing the strength of your heart and lungs and keeping them working efficiently.
- Health: Walking at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week provides many of the health-related benefits of a physically active lifestyle, including lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, increasing energy level, slowing down the aging process, and reducing the risk for disease.
- Low stress: Walking is considered “low impact” since it puts very little strain on your bones and joints.
- Bone health: Walking is also considered a “weight-bearing” activity since it involves most of the major muscle groups in your legs, thighs, and buttocks. Not only can you increase the strength of these muscles by walking, but you can also improve the strength and overall health of your bones.
- Body composition: Regular walking can help your body burn calories and increase your muscles. This can help you maintain or lose weight.
- Good for Family Health: Walking your kids to school is a great way to bond, but it’s also good for kids’ health, too. Walking has been shown to improve children’s memory, boosts creativity, mood, and overall learning abilities.
- Helps With Creativity: Learning, Memory, and Cognition found people who needed to boost creativity thought of better ideas while walking than just sitting. If you need to be creative, take a walk to get the ideas flowing.
- Fun: Walking doesn’t need to be boring. If you’re walking solo, you can simply enjoy the sounds of nature. Or turn on your favourite music and get moving. Podcasts and audiobooks are also great ways to help a walk go by quickly.
- Cuts Down Sugar Cravings: short 15-minute walk can curb the urge to eat chocolate during stressful situations. Walking may also reduce the desire to eat sugary snacks.
- Improves Immunity: Want to avoid the worst of cold and flu season? A study of over 1,000 participants discovered those who walked at least 5 days a week for 20 minutes at a time had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercise less than once per week.
- Reduces the Risk of Breast Cancer: The American Cancer Society found that women who walk a minimum of 7 hours weekly have a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer once menopause starts.
- Can Improve Mental Health: Exercise has long been proven to help with mental and physical fitness. Psychologists found that a 10-minute walk can be just as beneficial as a 45-minute workout in reducing anxiety and depression.
- Eases Joint Pain Caused by Arthritis: Regular walking can alleviate arthritis pain since it circulates fluid that brings oxygen to the joints while also removing inflammation.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Depending on your overall health, a doctor may recommend consistent aerobic exercise. Walking for at least 30 minutes daily can help with blood pressure reduction.
- Get Focused: Feeling a little scatterbrained? A brief yet brisk walk may help you with sharp decision-making, according to an article by Harvard Health Publishing.
- Good for your health: it has numerous benefits including reducing your risk of diabetes.
- Convenient: you can just get up and go when it suits you.
- Free: it won’t cost you a penny as you don’t pay for fuel, parking or transport fares.
- Predictable: you’re in control so you don’t have the stress of late buses and traffic jams.
- Sociable: you can do it with a friend or colleague and chat as you go.
- A great way to discover new areas: it’s amazing what you find just from taking a different route.
- One way to improve your environment: walking instead of driving means less pollution and hence better air quality.
Tip: Keep a pair of walking shoes and socks in your car to take advantage of additional walking opportunities.
General Guidelines for Beginning a Walking
- If you are new to walking, start out slowly and gradually increase both the minutes spent walking and the distance travelled.
- You may want to start out by walking for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day.
- Increase your time so that you can achieve your goal by walking for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
- Once you can achieve this goal, another goal is to challenge yourself to walk at three miles per hour or one mile in 20 minutes.
- Remember not to overdo it. When you are walking, you should be able to carry on a conversation.
- If you have any health or medical concerns, be sure to check with your physician prior to beginning any exercise routine.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothes and sturdy walking shoes (see tips for selecting shoes below).
- Make a plan. Where will you walk? How many days will you walk? How far or how long will you walk? Will you walk alone or with a friend?
- Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes “warming up” before you begin your walking session. Stretching your arm and leg muscles will help get the blood flowing and allows your body to prepare for increased physical activity.
- Use proper walking posture. Walk tall with your head and chest up, shoulders down and relaxed, and your arms swinging naturally by your side.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight to support your lower back.
- Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, then roll your weight forward.
- Be sure to allow your body to “cool down” with a slower walking pace. Do some light stretches at the end of your walking session to help your heart and breathing rates return to normal.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after each session, especially in hot and humid weather.
- Most important, listen to your body. If it hurts or is uncomfortable, chances are that it is not the right activity for you.