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It’s understandable if walking isn’t always at the top of your mind. But perhaps that needs to change. Walking can do a lot for your physical health. It’s about much more than getting you from point A to point B.

Now, walking isn’t as intense as many other forms of exercise, but it offers many potential benefits for your health and well-being, so it shouldn’t be discounted or skipped.1

Potential Benefits Of Walking As Exercise

Walking for exercise is something everyone can do – including pregnant women, those who are overweight, and the elderly (under the guidance of a doctor, of course). A good walking program can possibly help you keep your weight under control. It may also help support heart health, and it’ll certainly get you in shape. Read on for some tips on how to incorporate more walking into your daily routine, and how it might benefit your health.

Walking For Fitness Can Help You Burn More CaloriesBurn calories text on paper which is burning | activatedyou

One of the health benefits of walking is an increased calorie burn. This can help you to maintain your healthy weight or even support weight loss. You can turn to brisk walking as a form of aerobic exercise to help you burn more calories than you consume.

While walking with moderate intensity for YOUR fitness level is a good place to start, there are ways to amp up the health benefits. With your doctor’s approval, you might try the following:

  • Challenging yourself by walking on uneven terrain or walking uphill (try hiking through nearby mountains or hilly areas or walking at an incline on the treadmill)
  • Increasing the time you spend walking
  • Making walking a weight-bearing exercise by wearing a weighted vest or carrying hand weights

You can also try varying intervals of speed to increase aerobic activity during your walks. This can help increase your total calories burned and provide more variety to your walking routine.2 Keep in mind, though, that you should always consult your doctor before beginning any new type of workout, including walking.

A Consistent Walking Workout May Help Support Cardiovascular Health

Studies show a sustained exercise walking program may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues in older adults.3 In fact, promising new studies even find the positive effects of walking briskly can be similar to the health benefits from running. Walking can help:close-up of doctor s body with tablet pc in hands | activatedyou

  • Support healthy blood pressure levels
  • Support healthy cholesterol levels4

Another study showed daily, 15-minute walks after meals had a positive effect on blood sugar levels.5

Low-Impact Walking May Help Strengthen And Protect Muscles And Joints

3D illustration, hip painful skeleton x-ray, medical concept | activateyouYou don’t have to walk fast to reap the rewards of walking. Even a simple, short walking routine can help improve mobility in your joints. This is the case even if for people who are obese or already dealing with joint discomfort.6

Just take things slow, and check with your doctor before you jump into a new walking routine.

 

Walking Can Be Good For Your Mood, Too

Full body side portrait of fashionable young asian woman walking with purse and smart phone against isolated white background | activatedyou

Whether you’re walking alone or walking with others, you could notice a difference in your mood and energy. Studies have established how walking can effectively support a positive mood and healthy energy levels.7

In addition, a walking routine may help you:

  • Connect with nature through outdoor walks, which may help increase feelings of peace and well-being.8
  • Reconnect with yourself and others through meaningful conversations with fellow walkers.
  • Help you manage stress and tension by literally walking away from the source of negativity, even for a little while.
  • Support creativity and problem-solving as you think things over while you take a stroll.9

 

Multi Generation Family Wearing Backpacks Hiking In Countryside Together | activatedyou


How To Start A Brisk Walking Program

If the benefits listed above sound a lot like your current list of health and wellness goals, it may be high time to head out the door and begin a brisk walking program. Here’s a short guide on brisk walking as a form of exercise, and how it involves a little more than simply walking at a fast pace.

Step 1: How Long Of A Walk Do You Need?

For adults, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week in order to reap the heart-healthy benefits. Brisk walking counts as a moderately intense activity. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes daily.10

Step 2: Picking Up The Pace

How do you know if you’re meeting the requirements of a brisk walk? How fast should you be walking? Researchers have established that the best way is to count your steps. If you are able to walk 100 steps a minute at a steady clip, it’s considered moderate-intensity exercise.11

You can try using a fitness tracker or a pedometer to measure your steps and maintain the pace you need. Most newer smartphones have a built-in step-counting feature. Just check your phone settings and make sure it’s enabled before you begin your walk. If this isn’t an option, there are also numerous apps you can download on your phone to help you track your physical activity on a daily basis.

Step 3: Figure Out Easy Ways To Get More Steps In

Provided you’ve been cleared by your doctor, here are more ways you can get more steps in a day to meet your 30-minute quota or to help you maintain your 100 steps/minute pace:

  • Encourage your family to go on a short walk around the block after dinner. This could also be a good way to extend the bonding you all share at the dining table.
  • Park farther away from your school or place of work, so you’re encouraged to walk a longer distance each day.
    Take the stairs whenever you can.
  • Walk to a nearby park and eat lunch there, instead of having a desk lunch.
  • Plan errands around walkable distances. For example, you can park in one spot and walk to all your errands (the bank, the supermarket, and the dry cleaners).
  • Have “walking meetings,” where you and your team can discuss work matters while taking a leisurely stroll.

Ask Your Doctor About Walking More For Your Health

You can develop a healthy new habit just by heading out the door. Walking for health is seriously underrated. But before you embark on a new walking for exercise routine, or any other type of physical activity, make sure you talk to your doctor about any existing medical conditions you might have. They can determine whether or not you should increase your walking activity and how much walking you will need to do to meet your fitness and health goals.

You can also ask a fitness professional to help you craft a walking program best suited to your current fitness level – one with your specific goals in mind. Walking for weight loss might require you to walk specific distances for a specific amount of time – and at a pace beyond your normal daily walking rate.

Consider walking for health, and literally, get more mileage out of your steps every day.

Learn More:

The Surprising Way Sitting Can Impact Your Health

How Heat Therapy Could Boost Your Fitness Results

Resting Heart Rate – What Can It Tell About Your Health?


Sources
1. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-walking-most-underrated-form-exercise-ncna797271
2. https://www.healthline.com/health/calories-burned-walking#increase-your-burn
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8576498
4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170225.htm
5 https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/03/dc13-0084
6. https://www.verywellfit.com/is-walking-a-real-exercise-4058698
7. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/regular-walking-can-help-ease-depression/
8. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wellbeing/news/a180/mental-health-benefits-nature-outdoors-study/
9. https://www.verywellfit.com/walking-for-your-mind-and-spirit-3432871
10. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
11. https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2019/02/how-fast-is-a-brisk-walk-researchers-offer-a-simple-way-to-measure-walking-intensity/