Health benefits of walking
Want to improve your health and fitness but daunted by the idea of tough aerobic classes and hardcore strength training? Don't sweat it; simple walking can help take your fitness up a notch. Not only that, but it can also help reduce your risk of chronic disease, and in some cases, has even been shown to increase longevity!
Benefits of walking
An analysis of 18 walking studies showed that in all, walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and reduced the risk of dying (during the study period) by 32%. Those who walked longer, at a faster pace, or both, garnered the most benefit.
In addition to improving your overall health, walking boasts numerous health benefits. It can help to:
- Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Manage your weight
- Lower LOL (bad) cholesterol
- Raise HOL (good) cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve your mood
- Improve the connectivity of brain circuits
Walk this way
Experts recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week. You can help yourself stay motivated by wearing a pedometer to track your progress (2,000 steps equals about a mile and 10,000 steps a day is roughly equivalent to 30 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise). You can gauge your intensity by steps per minute: 80 steps is considered a leisurely pace; 100 is moderate to brisk; and 120 steps is a fast pace.
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Join a walking club
Want to combine fitness, socialization and fun? Ask a friend, spouse or neighbor to join you in your walking jaunts. Or, you can join a walking group -or form your own. Be sure the group consists of motivated walkers, with skill levels on par with your own. You don't want to get discouraged when you can't keep up, nor do you want to lose your motivation if people in your group are more interested in socializing than exercising. (Just be sure you're more interested in exercising!)
Remember, for the most benefit, walk at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week at a brisk pace. If that's too much to begin with, start out at a slower pace. Use this sample daily walking program from the National Institutes of Health as a guide to get you started. You may want to walk more or less depending on your ability and the advice of your healthcare provider.