We all know the benefits of getting in 30 minutes of exercise five days per week, but did you know walking is a great way to get in those 30 minutes and you might be surprised at all the other benefits of brisk walking.
There are countless studies that show regular exercise is very good for overall health. However, many of these studies combine all the various forms of exercise together, so, how do we know that walking, versus moderate to high intensity cardio exercise, is beneficial? According to an article by Harvard Health, published in July 2018, multiple studies that specifically focused on walking, showed that it reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying by 32%; and, the benefits were equal for both men and women.
The many benefits of walking
There are numerous benefits to be gained by walking, such as, improving cholesterol, blood pressure, controlling obesity, improve vascular stiffness and inflammation, and it’s great for mental illness. Additionally, if those aren’t enough reasons to get you up and walking; Harvard Health also states that walking or other moderate exercise, protects you from dementia, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, depression, reduces risk for breast and colon cancer, eases joint pain, and even boosts immune function. Those are some very impressive reasons to get in 30 minutes of brisk walking five days per week. If that still isn’t enough, below are still more reasons to get in your steps.
Using proper technique when walking
Just like any sport or activity it’s always important to be sure we are using proper technique. To get the most benefit from your walk you’ll want to be sure to use good posture and purposeful movement.
- Keep your head up, look forward, not down or at the sky.
- Keep your neck, shoulders and back relaxed
- Swing your arms freely with slight bend in your elbows
- Tighten your abdominal muscles while keeping your back straight for good posture and to engage your core
- Walk smoothly, heel to toe
Set goals, track your progress and stay motivated
As always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and if you doctor agrees, check with him or her to determine a good starting point for you. If you are are cleared to walk, and are a beginner, a good place to start is 15-30 minutes of walking, five-days per week. If you are already walking try to get in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, again, five-days per week. Once you start, it is important to track your progress by knowing how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes. It will make it easier to track as you improve and will be good motivator too. If you don’t have a fitness tracker or phone app, you can easily keep a walking journal or log. Also, once you start, its important to stay motivated, perhaps plan a different location each day or walk with friends/family. You’ll want to make walking enjoyable so look around and take in the scenery or listen to your favorite music or podcast. And, if you miss a day, don’t sweat it, remind yourself how great you feel after each walk and of all the amazing health benefits you get from walking; then, start again tomorrow.