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Walking

Walking: The Perfect Exercise

Exercise can improve brain function, strengthen bones and muscles, and reduce your risk of disease — but it doesn't have to be daunting. Walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise, and is something that almost anyone can do!

Getting the right amount of physical activity every week doesn't have to be complicated. Walking is one of the greatest forms of exercise available. Because it's a low impact and low cost activity, it's perfect for almost anyone who wants to ease back into an active routine.

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Physical Benefits

While we all know exercise is good for you, walking has some benefits that may be surprising. In fact, walking can:

  • Improve circulation. Walking (even just 30 minutes a day) can lower blood pressure, reduce your chance of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduce your risk of breast cancer. A study from the American Cancer Society showed that women who walked about seven hours each week (or one hour per day) had a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Improve coordination and balance. Since stumbles and falls increase as we age, improving our balance is always important.
  • Strengthen bones and muscles. Walking is known as a "weight-bearing" exercise, meaning that you carry your weight as you move. This makes walking a fortifying exercise that can strengthen bones, muscles and joints.
  • Walking is great for mental health. Whether you're dealing with work stress or just need a little "me time" to focus on yourself, walking is a great way to increase endorphins, help you relax, and even improve your mood.

Optimize Your Walks

While this kind of physical activity doesn't require any extensive equipment, there are ways you can improve your experience to get the most out of it:

  • Invest in good shoes. Wear shoes with a good amount of arch support. Wearing the right kind of shoes can improve balance and reduce back pain, helping you to walk longer and more regularly without injury.
  • Warm up, stretch and cool down. Doing a few stretches and gentle movements to loosen up your body before and after a walk (or any type of exercise) can help you prevent injury, maintain mobility, strengthen muscles and improve performance.
  • Listen to a podcast or some good music. Make walking fun! Listen to an educational podcast or some uplifting music. Just make sure you stay in a low-traffic area and are aware of your surroundings as you walk. Or, call a friend or loved one to join you on your walk. It's a great way to catch up and motivate each other to do something good for your health!
  • Join a walking club or group. Walking is a great group activity and a great way to make friends. Many communities nowadays have walking groups that meet a few times a week. Joining one can keep you motivated and accountable – and more likely to continue with your new healthy habit.

Walking really is one of the best exercises for staying active at any age. From kids to adults, it's a great way to get outside, create a community and improve your health. Set a walking goal and commit to a routine today, and you'll start enjoying the results in just a few weeks.

 

This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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