If you want to feel great, have more energy and improve your overall health, take a walk. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and you can do it almost anywhere, anytime, and for free.
The generally recognized health benefits of walking regularly are far-reaching: reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases, reduced stress, control, muscle tone, and cardio fitness.
Walking for exercise does not need to be strenuous to produce results. Even walking for 30 minutes a day, has been reported to produce measurable benefits, even among those who are least active.
Tips for walking for exercise:
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Protect yourself from the sun with clothes, sunglasses, a hat and sun block.
- Drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk.
- If you are taking a long walk, take water with you.
- Walk with a friend and combine exercise with a visit.
- Join a local walking club.
- If you have a medical condition, are over, over 40 years of age or haven’t exercised regularly for a long time, check with your doctor before you start any type of exercise program.
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking can produce short- and long-term health benefits. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends at least 30 minutes a day, 5 or more days a week, or 10,000 steps daily (about 4-5 miles) measured by a pedometer.
Not everyone can achieve 10,000 steps a day, but almost everyone can find ways to build walking into their daily routine to accumulate at least 30 minutes of physical activity. If you can’t walk for 30 minutes at one time, take 5, 10, or 15 minute walks throughout the day. It all adds up to better health.
In the normal course of a day, just living and working, we take about 1000 to 3,000 steps (a mile to a mile and a half), without intentionally going out for a walk. You probably walk more than you think and will be surprised at how quickly the steps add up! Try walking everywhere—take the stairs instead of riding the elevator or escalator, take a walk after dinner, and when out and about choose the farthest spot in the parking lot.