To recap some information from my first article in this series on developing a walking routine as an easy and simple exercise, you can begin anywhere, anytime, alone or with another person!
The health benefits of walking regularly have been shown to be numerous and it is an ideal start to exercising for beginners. You can go as fast or as slow as you need. It’s easy to bump up your pace and go longer distances as you get better.
Make sure to keep your chin up, shoulders upright and spine straight. Some days, you can push yourself to walk briskly, while cutting yourself some slack on the other days and proceed at a leisurely pace.
You can walk around your neighborhood, through a nature trail, on any school track, in a mall, on a treadmill if you have one, or even try hiking. You can walk anywhere! The only equipment you need is a good pair of walking shoes/sneakers that support your arch and slightly elevate your heel.
If you have any medical conditions, before starting any exercise regimen, it is best to check with your health professional, doctor, or physical therapist to make sure you will not cause injury or harm to your health.
1. Lowers Risk of Cardiovascular Problems. According to the Stroke Association, a brisk 30 minute walk everyday can control and prevent extremely high blood pressures that lead to stroke, by almost 27%.
Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
There is proven scientific research provided by the Harvard Medical School, that shows walking 20 minutes a day can alleviate the risks of cardiovascular ailments by 30%. Walking enhances the level of HDL (good) cholesterol, and curbing the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
2. Curbs Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, walking can curb this disease.
James O. Hill, PHD from the University of Colorado at Denver, states that tweaking your lifestyle to incorporate small changes, such as taking time out for daily ambles, can make a momentous change in the life of a Diabetes patient
3. Prevents Certain Cancers. Harvard University Women’s Health Study published their findings in 2012 that walking for almost 2-3 hours a week alleviates the risk of demise from uterine and breast cancer by almost 19%.
This same study shows if you increase the walking time to almost 4 hours a week, you could decrease the chances of cancer to almost 54%.
Studies have also shown a decrease in colon and bowel cancers when people have a regular walking routine.
4. Boosts Your Memory. Walking also offers wide-range in increasing cognitive benefits, such as enhancing memory in elders, boosting academic performance and placing cognitive control measures in preadolescents, in instilling creativity in the young when it is performed outdoors.
It has been shown that the longer that an old citizen can walk in 6 minutes, the better they would fare on logic and memory tests.
A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more.
A study published at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014, concluded that engaging in regular walks can slow down the faltering mental skills and the shrinking of the brain that is the side effect of old age, using subjects between the ages of 60 and 80.
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.
5. Battles Obesity. Simply walking at 2mph for half an hour can help you burn 75 calories. Push your speed to 3mph and you lose 99 calories (Equal to a jelly doughnut)! Stepping into a brisk walking routine can help you shed layers of unflattering pounds and flab as over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped..
As you continue to walk, you would notice that your clothes are getting loose around your midsection, even if the scales do not show an decrease in weight, The Harvard School of Public Health revealed that walking regularly can curb the effects of Obesity-promoting genes.
6. Curbs Stress Eating. Although walking has been shown to curb cravings of sweets. Walking cannot work in isolation though and should be compounded by a good night’s sleep and cultivating healthy eating habits.
Professionals are aware that stress eating often stems from psychological or emotional problems, conflicts or unresolved issues. Stress stored up causes your body to produce an overload of the hormone, Cortisol.
Walking regularly removes these deposits of cortisol levels in your body and releases endorphin into your system, producing a feeling of well-being, while helping you to reduce stress markers, you will no longer sense any need to stuff your body with sugary ‘treats’.
A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that walking releases natural pain¬killing endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. This can aid greatly in helping to reducing your desire for those extra weight bearing foods.
7. Tones Your Butt and Thighs.
Sagar Pednekar, fitness professional, says that the ideal way to tone your thighs and butts is to walk as fast as you can. Brisk walking tones your glute muscles. During walks, try to squeeze your butt after every ten steps.
This low impact workout is even feasible for people with other ailments, as it as it poses no risks. Again those with health conditions, should always consult their medical professional before beginning any exercise routine.
8. Shores up your bones. It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York.
In fact, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, study of post-menopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking each day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.
Walking is also better for your spine than running as it puts less stress on your disc, and is feasible for all age groups.
9. Strengthens muscles. Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk.
10. Supports your joints. The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move, helping to lessen arthritis pain.
Impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration, which can increase your chance of getting debilitating medical conditions.
11. Leads to a longer life. Research out of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System says those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45 percent less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.
12. Walking improves sleep. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk. Now that is a fact that motivates me to get out and just Do It!
13. Walking helps you do more, longer. Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living of people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, shows a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
So, stop listening to all those excuses and use some of these healthy benefits as a motivation in stepping up or beginning a regular walking exercise routine. Again, Begin slow, pace yourself and increase momentum and distance when you feel physically able.
You are only hindered by your own thoughts or reasons why you are not walking, aside from any health related conditions.
GET OUT TODAY AND DO IT!!!
Share with us in the comments below your own story in how you started a walking routine? We can be influencers in supporting one another to develop healthy exercise habits when we share our struggles along with our successes!
Certified Tai Chi Instructor