Walking as a form of exercise is easy to do. It requires no equipment except a good pair of walking or running shoes, it can be done anywhere and offers tremendous health benefits.
While people walk for a variety of reasons–to get from one place to another, to enjoy nature, to reduce tension, to accompany the dog or as their selected mode of physical fitness–they are all benefiting from the exercise. Studies have indicated that when done briskly, walking can improve health and reduce the risk of many diseases including heart attacks, strokes, hip fractures, diabetes, breast and colon cancer.
Walking vs. Running
Walking burns about the same number of calories as running does. In some studies, however, walking has been shown to prove more effective than running and other activities because it is almost injury free and has a low dropout rate. People can walk at all ages and many continue to walk into very old age.
Walking for Weight Management
Along with a healthy diet, walking is an excellent way to manage your weight. A brisk walking pace in which you are walking for at least 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days a week is ideal.
Walking and Your Heart
Brisk walking strengthens the heart, which in turn enables the heart to pump more blood with less pressure on the arteries. Some people who begin walking as exercise find that walking is as effective as medication in keeping their blood pressure down. Brisk walking also helps reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood.
More Benefits from Walking
Walking briskly for exercise can also reduce depression, improve mood, strengthen muscles, bones and joints, improve sleep and elevate your metabolism so your body continues to burn calories more efficiently. Even smokers who begin walking often smoke less or quit.
Check With a Doctor
If you have high blood pressure or other problems, you should consult your health care practitioner before you begin any kind of exercise program. If you experience pain when walking, you should stop and consult your health care practitioner.