Healthstyle Blog

Walk Your Way To Fitness

Walk Your Way to Fitness

Running, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting are all excellent forms of exercise. However, did you know that all you really need to do to get fit is walk? It’s true—and easy to do! Almost anyone can walk and enjoy the numerous healthy benefits the activity provides. Just consider these reasons to walk your way to fitness:

  • Walking can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes as it burns calories, makes muscles more efficient at storing blood sugar, and manages weight.
  • Walking lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Walking improves the flow of blood to your brain, which may slow age-related memory loss.
  • Because it’s a weight bearing exercise, walking helps to prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. It even reduces arthritis symptoms including swelling and pain.
  • Walking reduces your chances of developing some types of cancers, including that of the colon.
  • It boosts mood and can relieve the symptoms of depression.

Doing it Right. Of course, it’s important to walk correctly if you want to get the maximum benefit and reduce your chance of injury. Experts recommend keeping your spine straight. Your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees. Bend your arms 90 degrees and allow them to swing easily beside you. With every step, try to land on your heel, roll forward, and then push off with your toes.   Walking outdoors will work your muscles most effectively. Grass, dirt, uneven pavement, hills and wind all add resistance. This means you’ll burn more calories when you walk outdoors as well. If you must use a treadmill, dial up the incline. You can also walk backwards for a few minutes to simulate walking downhill. This will build strength in your quadriceps and shins.

Getting with the Program If you’re new to exercise, start with 20 minutes of walking three to five days a week. If that feels easy, add five minutes the next week, and so on, until you’re walking for 45 minutes to an hour at least five days a week. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to start out slowly. However, you should eventually work your way up to walking at a brisk pace. One recent study showed the faster you walk, the better the activity is for your overall health. After tracking 39,000 walkers for nine years, the researchers concluded that for every minute the subjects shaved off a mile-long walk, they reduced their risk of premature death by 1.8 percent.   A simple pedometer can be a great motivator. A 2007 Stanford University study found that keeping track of your steps each day increases physical activity by about 27 percent. Set a goal for total number of steps and walk whenever possible. You can take the stairs rather than the elevator or find a longer route to the restroom or copy machine. Take the dog on a two-block walk rather than one. Step out for a 10-minute walk break in the morning or afternoon.

Do you walk as a form of exercise ? If yes I would love to hear how often and for how long ? I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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