What do you think is the most popular form of exercise?
Walking for health of course! After all, it’s cheap, it’s easy, it doesn’t require fancy equipment, special clothes, an expensive membership and it’s available 24/7 for just about anyone.
Walking, even just 30 minutes a day can strengthen your bones, reduce body fat, boost your muscle power and increase your cardiovascular fitness. It’s a low impact form of exercise that offers at least 10 health benefits:
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Lower chance of stroke and heart disease
- Better management of diabetes
- Increased longevity
- Weight loss or maintenance
- Improved sleep
- Better muscle strength
- Stronger bones
- Reduced incidence of depression
- Increase in “good” cholesterol
What’s the best way to get started with a walking routine?
First, get a good pair of flat shoes that have adequate arch support. Remember to stretch a bit, particularly the calves and hamstrings. Start out slow. Like chiropractic adjustments, each session builds on the ones before. Ease into it slowly and increase your pace and distance gradually until you are where you want to be.
And like chiropractic care, walking should be done on a regular basis for optimum effectiveness.
Many of us overlook even small opportunities to walk. Instead of stressing out trying to find the closest parking spot, walk. Instead of driving, walk to the convenience store.
Walking for health is generally a safe way to exercise, but be sure to exercise some common sense:
- Make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise, especially if you’re overweight or over the age of 40.
- Be sure to warm up by stretching first and then cooling down afterwards by slowing your pace.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and supportive, well-fitting footwear to avoid blisters and shin splints.
- Drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk. If you are taking a long walk, take water with you.
- Stay focused, keeping your eyes ahead to avoid uneven surfaces. Avoid texting or other distractions.
A brisk walk for health for 30 minutes a day, five days a week will work wonders for your physical and mental health. So get up off that couch, climb out of that chair, grab a friend and start walking!
Here’s another great article from Harvard on walking.