Behind our laptops, desktops, smart phones, devices and televisions lies one common thread: someone who needs to get up and move! All this amazing technology at our fingertips is easy and helpful, but it can cause us to become too sedentary and miss the beauty of the outdoors and frequent movement, which our bodies need to function properly and maintain a healthy existence. We too often think that if we can’t go out and run a 5K there’s not much else we can do. People don’t realize all the health benefits of walking and dismiss it because it doesn’t sound “physically challenging.” Every great endeavor should start small and gradually build into more. Let’s dive into the healthy, under-valued activity of walking and see if you’re not surprised just how beneficial that stroll around your neighborhood can help your overall health!
Walking Is REALLY Good For You
Just a minimum of 30 minutes a day of walking can do great things for your body and health:
- Walking burns calories!!
- Walking can lower your risk for developing osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
- Walking can help strengthen your bones, increase your cardiovascular health and endurance.
- Walking helps with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, it improves your pulmonary health which is benefitting your heart and lungs, and helps you lose body fat and increase your muscle strength.
- Walking can lower your blood sugar.
- When you walk you are carrying your own body weight, thus walking is a weight bearing exercise which can help those with joint and muscle pain and stiffness.
- Walking can help boost your immune system.
- Walking can improve your sleep quality and has been proven to help some people that suffer from insomnia.
- Medical research has shown that walking has helped lower the mental decline and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in seniors ages 65 and over.
- Psychologists have found that walking has been effective in helping to relieve some symptoms of anxiety.
- Walking can increase your energy and put you in a better mood!
- Walking can help you clear your mind and boost your creativity.
- Taking a brisk walk is best for you. This means you are not walking so fast you are jogging, but you have enough speed that you are noticing your heart rate is up and your breathing is getting heavier.
Walking Is Simple!
Walking itself is simple and requires just a few easy considerations that make it successful!
- Walking is free and you can do it anywhere, no gym membership required.
- Walking is a low impact exercise and perfect for those with health conditions, senior citizens, those ready to get back in shape after an absence of exercise, and those who are overweight wanting to become healthier.
- Walking can easily become a part of your normal routine, like brushing your teeth or checking the mailbox.
- Whether you are walking your dog, talking with friends, or having a chat on the phone while you walk, you are MOVING, and your body will thank you!
- Keep water with you or close by when walking so you do not become dehydrated.
- Wear sunscreen while walking!
Walking Builds Endurance
No one starts running a marathon without training for it first. Physical endurance takes time to build so enjoy the journey. A few good suggestions to help you as you build up your physical endurance:
- Walking fast does burn more calories than walking slow, but you have to start somewhere! Start out walking within your target heart rate, then as you walk more you can increase your speed and the distance you go.
- Your body will get used to a certain speed and distance, so as you work on increasing these, try adding in a hill, hand weights and different pace to build endurance.
- Don’t forget to stretch and warm-up before you go into a brisk, all-out walk. Also remember to slow down to cool down before you stop walking.
- Don’t wear overly-warm clothing that will cause you to become overheated.
- The key to building endurance also falls on your feet - make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes, one that has plenty of arch support and heel support.
- Many smartphones have “health apps” that can track your steps, distance, heart rate and other benefits. If yours doesn't you can download a walk or distance tracking app that will tell you how far you’ve gone in how much time, which can be used to help you in pacing and growing in your physical endurance.
Making It To The Finish Line
As you walk and increase your activity you will see and feel the benefits in your body and in your overall mood. It does require some hard work on your part, but everytime you end a walk, you cross the finish line a winner. Taking control of your health and increasing your longevity is a pursuit you won’t regret. And you just might find you are having fun as you enjoy the beauty along the way.
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