Benefits of walking for physical exercise

Walking has the lowest “drop out” rate compared to other forms of exercise. Incorporating just 30 minutes of walking, five days a week, can reduce your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

Most of us understand the importance of getting regular physical activity. According to the 1996 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, people of all ages who are generally inactive can improve their health and wellbeing by becoming moderately active on a regular basis.

Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. According to the American Heart Association, even though there are countless physical activity options available, walking has the lowest “drop out” rate and just 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week, can help:

  • Reduce the risk of coronary disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental wellbeing
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes

Michigan State University Extension says that spring is a beautiful time of the year to start a walking regimen and you can incorporate other things into your routine, such as walking with a friend or family member, pushing a stroller or walking the dog. Before you start walking, make sure to check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any health issues that will interfere with your new exercise schedule. Also make sure you have a pair of well-fitting shoes that provide adequate arch support and cushioning.

The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has an online walking club that offers walking related tips, tools and resources to help you stay informed and motivated.

For more information, visit the following websites that provide additional information on the health benefits of walking:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612

http://www.startwalkingnow.org/whystart_benefits_walking.jsp

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/physactivity.htm

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