Multiple studies show that walking is one of the best activities we can participate in to improve our overall health according to Robert Sallis, MD with Kaiser Permanente. Below you will find a few of these benefits.
Lower body mass index (BMI): Those who walk more and sit less tend to have a lower BMI which is an indicator of obesity.
Lower blood pressure and cholesterol: A National Walkers Health Study published in 2013 indicated that walking reduced the risk of high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol by as much as 7%. This in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
Improves circulation: Walking not only reduces the risk of heart disease and other related health issues, it also increases your heart rate thus strengthening the heart. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that women who walked just 30 minutes per day reduced the risk of stroke by 20% and up to 40% when the pace was increased.
Strengthens and tones muscles: Walking helps strengthen and tone the leg muscles as well as those in the abdominal and lower back areas. Stronger back muscles help in maintaining good posture especially as we age. As a massage therapist these areas are what my clients most often have issues with. Walking combines with a good stretching routine also helps maintain a good range of motion in these areas.
Helps to reduce stress: Similar to other types of aerobic exercises, walking stimulates the production of neurotransmitters such as endorphins, which help improve your mental state. If stress builds up during the day walking most definitely is a positive way to let off some steam and clear your mind.
Walking shores up your bones: According to Michael Schwartz, MD at Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York, “walking just 30 minutes per day (minimum) at a moderate pace, 5 days per week will have significant overall health benefits”.
Conclusion: There are obviously more health benefits to walking than I have listed here. My goal was to show you a few of the major benefits and encourage you to get out and enjoy a good walk. Get into the routine. The hardest part is that first time getting out the door. After you experience the benefits you will be hooked. Exercise is always easier in a group so start with your spouse or a neighbor. You will be glad you started, and you will see what a difference it will make in your life.
Edinah & Stan Simmons