3 Reasons You Should Walk
Does the headline ring true? Can you walk your way to fitness? I just came off of my treadmill, which allows me to travel around the world as the device changes speed and incline with the terrain I view. This morning I found myself in Nagano (Japan). I am especially delighted to report that physical activity does not to be overly complicated. Indeed, if you walk for most days of the week, you too may derive benefits from ambulation. And the faster, farther, and more frequently you walk, the greater the potential benefits.
Three reasons you should walk
- You can improve your blood flow. Walk, and you may lower your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Walking can drop the risk of cardiovascular events by nearly one-third and the risk of early death by a similar amount. This reduction accrues to both men and women. The risk-reduction occurs even for those who walk only 5.5 miles weekly, as slowly as 2 miles per hour. Want the most protection? Walk further, faster, or both.
- You may strengthen your bones. Those with osteoporosis can diminish bone loss by walking. Every year, there are 350,000 hip fractures in the United States. Hip fractures are not trivial: 1) One in three who lived independently before a hip fracture will spend at least a year in a nursing home afterward; 2) Forty percent cannot walk alone a year later; 3) 60 percent can no longer take of activities of daily living, such as getting dressed. And perhaps the most frightening of all: One in four adults who fracture a hip die within a year. Fortunately, a regular exercise routine can cut your risk of a fall by 20 percent to 30 percent.
- You may live longer. Exercise regularly in your 50s and 60s, and you may drop your risk of death by over one-third over the next eight years, compared to non-walking folks. If you have underlying conditions, the number rises by nearly half (a relative 45 percent).
What you need to do
If you are using walking as your primary exercise, aim for moderate-intensity activity. If you can, that means a brisk walk for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. I am for a minimum of 150 minutes per week (for example, 30 minutes for five days per week). Running may be more efficient, but we don’t have to worry about running-related injuries. And you won’t need special equipment; I keep a good pair of tennis shoes at work, to walk over the lunch hour.
The Mayo Clinic (USA) reminds us to watch our walking technique:
- Hold your head high, and move those shoulders naturally as you look forward (not at the ground). Keep your chin parallel to the ground.
- Walk with your back straight, not arched forward or backward.
- Gently tighten your stomach muscles.
- Swing your arms freely with a slight bend at the elbow.
- Walk smoothly, rolling your foot from the heel to toe.
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you have a joy-filled day. Oh, if you want to learn one fascinating way exercise can help you to live longer, please go here:
Exercise: One Way It May Help You Live Longer
The relationship between physical activity and telomere length