Walking – The Underrated Exercise

Walking improves your health.   A walking regimen can help you lose weight; lower your blood pressure and cholesterol; and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer; among other benefits.  “Walking for Health,” a special report issued by Harvard Medical School, says that walking can do more to combat disease and other health conditions than pretty much anything else. One example: Walking just two-and-a-half hours a week, or just under 22 minutes a day, might reduce your risk of heart disease by an impressive 30%.

It improves memory and cognitive capability.   Numerous studies show that walking is a brain booster.  For example, a study published in a 2010 issue of the journal Neurology found a link between walking and a greater amount of gray matter in the brain.  And research from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville indicated walking lessened the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in elderly men.

It boosts your mood and lowers stress.   Walking even a few minutes a day calms anxiety and enhances your mood. This is especially true if you’re walking outside in nature, a setting that numerous studies show is beneficial in myriad ways.

Walking is energizing, yet also helps you sleep.   A walking regimen helps boost your energy levels, but don’t worry if you suffer from insomnia. Women ages 50 to 75 who walked for an hour every morning were less likely to have insomnia than those who did not, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

It’s a safe, easy exercise for newbies.   Walking has one of the lowest exercise injury rates, according to a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services.   Beginners without the stamina to finish a 30-minute walk can break it up into small chunks

Walking can be a vigorous workout.   If you want to ramp up the intensity, try intervals, where you alternate a few minutes of easy strolling with intense bursts. You can also walk with hand or ankle weights, a loaded backpack, 0r hills.

You don’t need to take 10,000 steps a day.   Research supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in 2019 found that while older women who took 4,400 steps a day had a lower death rate than those taking just 2,700, the benefit of more daily steps leveled off around 7,500.

While walking is a great form of exercise, new research shows we should move regularly throughout the day for optimal health. “Walking for five minutes every hour goes a long way,” Matthews said. “It doesn’t need to even be moderate intensity. Just move.”



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