The Benefits of Walking

Walking is one of the best exercises you can do both for your body and mind. Walking can: 

  • Increase your cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • Increase muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Decrease joint and muscular pain and stiffness
  • Improve the management of chronic medical issues including hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and diabetes
  • Decrease the development of osteoporosis by improving bone health
  • Improve overall balance and reduce the chances of falling
  • Burn calories and reduce body fat

When we walk all the muscles of our body become engaged arms, legs and our core muscles which are key for good posture and balance and the improvement of bone strength through weight bearing. The goal is to walk for 30 minutes continuously most days of the week at a moderate pace for overall health. If you are unable to tolerate 30 minutes, break it up into smaller times, (for example 10 minutes, 3 times a day). The most important thing is to get up and move! You can walk inside your home, out in your backyard, in your neighborhood or out in your local park. If you walk outdoors on uneven surfaces, up and down hills you will increase the amount of work your heart and muscles have to do, working towards building even more overall health benefits. You will be challenging your body even more. If you are able to walk for longer a few days a week without pain or increased discomfort the more benefits you will increase the benefits even more. You can improve your ability to walk at a faster pace by setting a goal for yourself to walk as fast as you can for a set number of seconds. For example, after walking a few minutes you can say for the next 30 seconds I’m going to walk as fast as I can and repeat it every 3 minutes. Eventually you can increase the time for speed walking to 1 minute and decrease the time in-between to 2 or 1 min. This will increase your heart rate even more, burn more calories and therefore improve your cardiovascular system and increase the muscle in your body even more. The #1 goal is to keep walking every day!! If you do so, you will get stronger and healthier!