Walking is not only good exercise, but is also known to be the cure for a number of ailments, and has a myriad of health benefits, which range from strengthening the muscles to boosting metabolism. Here's more...
In order to get the best out of any exercise, a steady routine is a must. One should walk a minimum of 40 minutes a day, a minimum of 5 times a week. The method of walk is also important, for a stroll does not bring you the benefits of walking as exercise.
- Walk at a speed that you develop a mild sweat after 15 - 20 minutes. The speed should be such that you should be able to talk while walking and not gasp.
- Ensure you are properly attired for your walk. A good fitting pair of sports shoes with a cushioned heel and supporting arch is a must.
- Distance over speed should be the choice.
- Warm up slowly, if you start off briskly you will only burn out some sugar (not fat) and also get winded out.
As part of your walk plan, select a gradient for a portion of the walk or climb a few stairs if possible. (In case of a heart problem, a gradient and stairs is not recommended.)
- If you have a serious medical ailment or are over 50 years of age, check with your doctor as to what would be the best level of walking for you.
Benefits of Walking Daily
- Weight management: When it comes to body weight, remember 1 pound = 3,500 calories. So, every time, you burn 3500 calories worth of energy, you lose a pound of body weight. Keeping your weight within healthy limits can reduce the risks of diabetes (type 2), heart disease, cancer, stroke and osteoarthritis.
- Control of blood pressure: Exercise is known to strengthen heart muscles, which also applies to walking. A healthy heart can pump more blood with lesser effort and with lesser pressure into the arteries.
- Lowers the risk of a stroke: According to a Harvard study conducted over 10,000 people, it was noted that regular walking reduced the risk of a stroke by a half.
- Lowers risk of heart attack: Many studies have also shown that brisk walking exercise done regularly reduces the chances of having a heart attack.
- Reduces level of 'bad' cholesterol: Low-density lipoproteins (LDL or bad cholesterol), which causes plaque along the walls of the arteries and obstructs the flow of blood, is reduced by walking.
- Risk of breast cancer is reduced: A 'Nurses Health Study' has shown that regular exercise cuts the risk of breast cancer by a half.
- Control of diabetes (type two): Burning calories and blood sugar is known to help bring diabetes under control.
Gallstone surgery can be avoided: A Harvard study conducted with data of over 60,000 women indicated reduction in the need for gallstone surgery.
- Reduced risk of hip and lower limb fracture: Studies have shown a marked reduction in the number of regular walkers suffering from hip and lower limb fractures.
- Miscellaneous benefits: The list is endless. Among many other important benefits, indicated by studies are that walking lowers stress levels, back pain relief, improves sleep, reduces depression and elevates overall mood, strengthens muscles and bones, and lengthens life span.
The frenetic pace of life often leaves little or no time for exercise. However, physical activity need not be strenuous and exhausting. The beauty of walking is that it is the easiest, most convenient, and cheapest (does not require a gym membership) form of exercise. Walking can be easily fitted into one's daily routine, such as walking to work or school, from the rail station or to church. So without much ado, start today, and reap the many benefits it has to offer.