Physical activity does not need to be complicated. You do not need a $2,000 bike or a fancy gym membership to exercise each day. Something as simple as a brisk walk around you neighborhood can help improve your health by releasing tension and burning calories.
In this article we will discuss the many health benefits of walking for exercise, as well as give you some simple tips to get started and stay motivated to stick to your walking schedule until you start to see results.
Walking Is The Perfect Low Impact Exercise
If you’re like most of us you probably haven’t exercised much since you got out of college and need to work your way back into it. Whether you doctor has suggested that you get some regular physical activity or you just want to be proactive about your health, walking is the perfect way to start no matter what your fitness level may be.
- Find a pair of comfortable shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Put them on and go for a stroll through your neighborhood. You could also find a local park or nature trail with a nice path that you can walk on.
- If you are really out of shape, start by going for a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood the first week. Remember to pace yourself and don’t overdo it when starting out. Each week add an 5 minutes to your routine until you reach a minimum of 30 minutes.
- If you’re already in great shape, walking can still provide an effective workout. Increase your speed and incorporate some hills and even stairs. You can try adding interval training by walking quickly, then slowing down, then increasing your speed again. The ultimate goal would be 150 to 300 minutes per week of walking.
- If the weather doesn’t permit walking outside, head to your local mall and walk around the perimeter, or hop on a treadmill at home – if you happen to have one in the corner collecting dust. You can even walk or march in place for 10 minutes in between episodes of your favorite TV shows.
- Don’t forget Fido! Taking your dog for a walk is the perfect opportunity to get outside and exercise. Not only will it give you special bonding time with your favorite pooch, but you will both reap the health benefits.
- Invite a friend to come along with you on your walk. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to and having a walking buddy helps to keep you accountable. Check to see if there are any walking groups in your area or consider starting your own.
- To keep things from getting boring, mix up your route and walk in different areas of town, or visit different parks. Are there any lakes nearby, or hiking trails? The view during the morning is different than at night, so switch up your walking times as well.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, or two, just don’t let it stretch out too long or you will likely never get started again. Plan for one day of rest per week for recovery, we don’t want any injuries or pulled muscles.
The Many Health Benefits Of Going For A Walk
There are a lot of good reasons to go for a walk. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and most important it’s good for your health. But what exactly are the health benefits of walking?
Walking Gets You Outside In Nature
No matter how fast or slow you walk, walking gets you outside and in the fresh air. This alone will make you feel better as your body absorbs more oxygen and Vitamin D from the sunshine. Both are important for your health and well-being.
You will find the air quality outside, particularly if you go for a walk on the beach or in a park, will be much better than the air inside your house. A change of scenery is a mood booster as well.
Walking Can Help You Get To And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Walking at a quick pace and doing it regularly can help you get to and then maintain a healthy weight. Yes, you still need to watch what you eat and consume a healthy diet, but walking can be another tool to help you burn fat and drop those extra pounds.
Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, where you are carrying your own body weight when you walk. This leads to increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness, reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke, and helps with the management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and type 2 diabetes.
As you lose weight you can add hand weights to your walk, or just continue to increase the length of your walks.
Walking Strengthens Your Bones, Muscles, and Improves Balance
Even though walking is a low impact form of exercise it helps to strengthen and tone your body. It is gentle on your joints, leads to stronger bones and improved balance, as well as increased muscle strength and endurance.
Start off each walk at a leisurely pace to give your muscles time to warm up (5 to 10 minutes), and then pick up the speed. Walking at a brisk pace means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to help your muscles cool down.
After your walk gently stretch your leg muscles. Hold stretches for about 20 seconds, if you feel any pain, ease off the stretch.
Walking Will Boost Your Mood
Walking releases endorphins that will help lift your mood, release tension and stress, and help with cognition, memory and sleep. A good nights sleep is the best way to start the day and increased energy levels can help you feel stronger taking on life’s challenges.
The next time you are sad, grumpy, or stressed out go outside for a walk! Give it a try and see if it doesn’t improve your mood and outlook on life.
The best thing that you can do for you health is to move your body. Walking is an easy, low-impact way to get your body moving no matter what fitness level you are starting at. Just give it a try and see if you don’t start to feel healthier, happier, and stronger after a few weeks of regular walks.
You can see my favorite tools and gadgets here in my Amazon Affiliate Page. I earn a small commission when you purchase through my links, at no cost to you, so I can continue to bring you more helpful articles!
I searched for the best walking shoes across several sites and picked a variety of different styles. There are more size and color options available than what is linked to below.
- Clarks Un Rio Tie Best Everyday Walking Shoes
- Ryka Women’s Devotion Plus 2 Best Cushioning Walking Shoe
- Adidas Women’s Ultraboost 22 Best Overall Running Shoes
- New Balance FuelCore Nergize Best Lightweight Sneakers
- Hoka One One Clifton 8 Sneakers Best for High Arches
- Water Bottle for sports, hiking, and gym
- Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch
- Apple Watch SE