A brisk walk incorporates physical activity into your daily routine with just a little effort. It's free, doesn't require special equipment, and has a low risk of injury. Plus, it’s really good for your health.
What are the health benefits of walking?
Better weight control. Walking burns calories efficiently and helps you reach your weight-loss goals faster and achieve longer-lasting results.
Improved heart health. Walking lowers your blood pressure, raises your heart rate, helps balance your cholesterol and strengthens your cardiovascular system.
Increased energy. Walking boosts your blood flow and raises the hormones that control your energy levels. It also promotes better sleep, giving you more energy overall.
Less joint pain. Walking helps strengthen and lubricate your knee and hip joints and the muscles surrounding them. It can also ward off arthritis and reduce the pain that comes with it.
Reduced depression and anxiety. Walking releases endorphins that provide many emotional benefits, including improved mood and greater self-esteem.
Stronger bones and muscles. Walking helps prevent the loss of bone mass, reducing the risk of bone fractures and other arthritis-related complications. It tones your abdominal and leg muscles and increases your range of motion.
How do I get into a routine?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Walking briskly for about a half-hour five times a week is a step in the right direction.
But how do you fit a daily walk into your busy day? These tips from the National Institutes of Health will help you get started.
Tip 1: Don’t let a thunderstorm or heatwave keep you from your walk. Have a Plan B for when weather-related roadblocks pop up.
Listen to an audiobook, upbeat music or that podcast you've been wanting to check out. Just remember to keep the volume turned low enough that you can still hear the sounds around you.
Tip 3: Track your progress. Use your favorite fitness app, a computer or just a notebook and pen to record your walks and the distance you travel. It can keep you motivated to look back and see how far you've traveled on your road to fitness.
Tip 4: Walk in places you like to be, like the mall or an area park. Vary your locations to keep things interesting.
Take your regular walk to the next level with a walking challenge. You can participate on your own in a virtual challenge or join a group for a community-wide event. Walking challenges offer a chance to push yourself, set goals and join your neighbors and friends in a healthy activity.
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