There are many health benefits to walking, in particular that it can add years to your life, help you burn calories and help you steer clear of colds. It can also lower your blood sugar and assist in the fight against many common diseases. Walking has even been credited with cutting breast-cancer risks and helping you get a better night’s sleep. Plus, it’s good to get outside to experience the outdoors; our beaches, canyons and neighborhoods, especially in our temperate climate.
To experience the full health benefit of walking, the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, recommends walking farther, faster and more often than most of us do. To make walking the good-for-you, yet enjoyable activity, find ways to make your walk pleasing. Listening to music, books on tape or teaching tapes can prolong or help you to time your walk. Some people prefer to just enjoy nature and life around them, and the time to think, or just let their mind wander. The more you enjoy your walks, the more likely you are to walk consistently.
Studies have shown that regular walkers have fewer incidences of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and live longer and infuse their day with mental health and spiritual benefit. When you walk, you are not only exercising your muscles and getting an aerobic workout, but you are exercising your immune system that can prevent the onset of colds!
A daily walk also makes you a much better “fat-burner” than if you are walking two to three days a week. And, most people that make the switch will tell you that it’s easier to walk every day. You just do it every day and your body gets used to it. Soon, it becomes a normal part of your day and you begin to look forward to it. Walking for 30 minutes a day can prevent weight gain in most people who are physically inactive. Researchers from Brown University and the University of Pittsburgh showed that women who walked for an hour five days a week and consumed 1,500 calories a day lost and kept off 25 pounds over the course of a year.
A brisk walk in the afternoon will also help you get a better night’s sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Experts say that walking may boost levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which relaxes you. And the rise in body temperature brought on by walking may signal the brain to lower your temperature later, which promotes sleep.
To make walks even healthier, incorporate interval training a few days each week. For example, walk at a faster pace for one minute of every five minutes of walking time. This will increase your heart rate and aerobic exercise. Walking with light weights will also help to tone your upper body and increase your basal metabolic rate, which is a measurement of the energy required to keep the body functioning at rest. For example, using weights during a walk will burn more calories than if just walking with no resistance.
Looking for more walking opportunities throughout a busy day is a great way to increase your daily step count. By parking in the outlying parking spots when you head to the grocery store, you infuse an opportunity to increase your daily step count and justify the extra effort to walk the longer distance. According to researchers, 10,000 steps per day is the optimal number for general fitness and disease prevention.
The average person’s stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long. That means it takes about 2,000 steps to walk one mile, which equates to five miles if 10,000 steps are walked. For so many of us, carving out a 30 to 45 minute block of time from our busy day is nearly impossible, and could impede our ability to take that daily walk. So, using a step counter is a good way to gauge how much walking you do in your daily routine — and what you need to add in order to offset the time or steps needed to make it worth your while. Of course, you do not have to start with 10,000 steps. Wear a pedometer for a week to get your exercise baseline. Then set small goals to build up by 500 steps each week. Small incremental steps can lead to big improvements in your health and fitness.
Think of your walk as the special time you take each day to care for yourself. It will help keep you toned, healthy and happy.
Filed Under: News