Walking is a low-impact form of exercise where people of all ages, and most abilities can participate. It cannot be overemphasized that outside of good shoes there is no cost, it is essentially free, and if that is not enough it can be done at the convenience of your busy schedule. It improves heart health and it helps reduce your weight.
If you add bursts of more strenuous exercise you raise your metabolism that improves the health benefits even more. I hate running so I now walk where I can incorporate stairs into my outings.
Something Special for Those in the Seattle Area
- Seattle All Stairs (650 choices, those with 100+ steps are in pink-includes pictures)
- ActivelyNorthwest (more aggressive choices-location map included)
- Seattle Stairway Walks (25 stairs to choose from)
Top 10 Health Benefits of Walking
1. Strengthens Your Heart
Walking regularly has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and keeps blood pressure in check.
2. Lowers Your Risk Of Disease
As well as heart disease, a walking habit can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. On the days I walk more than 30 minutes my blood sugar goes down to the 90 to 110 range which is normal; I try to walk 30 minutes every day which reduces the medication I need to take to make this happen.
3. Cheap, Easy Weight Loss Plan
If you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn about 600 calories a day more than you’re eating. Walking regularly is one of the easiest ways to do that; a person weighing 135 pounds burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2 mph for 30 minutes. If you increase that to 3 mph and they’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4mph) and that’s 150 calories.
I personally have been walking regularly for one month and I have dropped 35 pounds.
4. Afraid Of Dementia?
Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80. Being active has a protective effect on brain function and regular exercise reduces dementia risk by up to 40 per cent (these are facts you can confirm through reliable medical organizations).
5. Helps With Osteoporosis
Walking regularly is a weight-bearing activity and as such strengthens bones, increasing their density. It also helps maintain healthy joints so may stave off conditions such as arthritis.
6. Tones Your Legs, Butt, And Stomach
A good walk can help strengthen and shape your legs, giving great definition to calves, quads, hamstrings and lifting your glutes (butt muscles) – especially if you add hills. But if you really pay attention to your posture as you walk, it can tone your abs and reduce your waist as well.
7. Tones Your Arms
Your speed when walking comes from your arms. Hold them at a comfortable level, bent at the elbow, and swing them backwards and forwards as you walk. Swing them faster and you’ll automatically speed up. And all this movement tones your arms, shoulders and upper back
8. Boosts Your Vitamin D Levels
If you’re walking outside in daylight, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a nutrient that’s hard to get from food, but that we can synthesize from exposure to sunlight. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D and it’s a nutrient that plays a big role in everything from bone health to immunity.
9. Gives You Energy
A brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish. Do you have a mid-afternoon energy slump at work? Head out for a walk at lunchtime and see what a difference it makes.
10. Makes You Happy
The ability of exercise to boost mood is undisputed. Studies have shown regular brisk walking to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression. It is hard to beat the release of feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. Walking can be a social activity; join a walking group or meet up with friends to walk and chat.
Additional Information Sources
- Mayo Clinic…Benefits of walking regularly
- WebMD… How to Make Your Walks Help Your RA
- Harvard Health Publications… Walking: Your steps to health
There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It’s the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health. Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you: it doesn’t have to be any more complex than that. Get your walking shoes out of the closet, get a pedometer, go… Walking is the silver bullet.