Walking is a great way to improve stamina and maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes of walking can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and promote muscle power and endurance. Additionally, it can reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. However, other forms of exercise require special equipment or training.
You don’t have to be vigorous or exercise for long periods of time to improve your health. A 2007 study of inactive women found that even a small amount of exercise – around 75 minutes per week – significantly improved their fitness levels when compared to a non-exercising group.
There are many reasons to walk for exercise. It is low impact and can be done at any time. You can walk at your own pace and it is a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight or elderly.
You can make walking enjoyable and social by joining clubs, going to venues, and using different strategies.
Health Benefits Of Walking
Aids Weight Loss
Walking is an effective way to burn calories, and it can also help you lose weight.
. In an experiment, researchers at the University of Alabama had obese patients walk to their destinations together (a concept known as the ‘walking bus’). After eight weeks, their weight was checked, and more than 50% of the participants lost an average of 5 pounds.
Walking is a good way to increase energy expenditure and burn calories.
Improves Heart Health
A study of adult women in rural New York showed that those who walked more had better cardiovascular health, as measured by various biomarkers.
According to many studies, walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%. The American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine suggests that every adult should do moderate-intensity workouts (such as brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Walking can help improve circulation and lower blood pressure.
The researchers found that those who walked 10,000 steps per day for 12 weeks had a significant drop in blood pressure and increased stamina.
Even if you can’t walk for 10,000 steps a day, you can still lower your blood pressure by walking for at least 30 minutes each day.
Regulates Blood Glucose Levels
Regular short walks can help improve fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels.
The text is saying that scientists recommend at least 5,000 steps a day to help manage type 2 diabetes, with more than 3,000 of those steps being a brisk walk.
A study of inactive seniors found that walking for 15 or 45 minutes after meals controlled blood glucose levels.
Strengthens Bones And Eases Joint Movements
Walking on a regular basis can help to improve the condition of your bones by affecting the lubrication between joints as well as toning and strengthening muscles.
A small study conducted on 27 people who were experiencing symptoms of knee osteoarthritis found that walking for a continuous period of 30 minutes or more increased knee pain, while the same amount of walking conducted in multiple shorter sessions improved knee loading and eased pain.
Increases Lung Capacity
When you walk, you take in more oxygen than when you are not moving. This increased intake of oxygen, along with exhaling carbon dioxide, can help to increase your lung capacity. This, in turn, can help to increase your stamina and performance when exercising.
The study found that AE significantly increased FVC and TLC in both COPD patients and healthy controls. A new study suggests that being aerobically fit may help to increase lung volume, which could be beneficial for people suffering from COPD. The study, published in The European Respiratory Journal, found that people who did aerobic exercise saw significant increases in their forced vital capacity (FVC) and total lung capacity (TLC), compared to both COPD patients and healthy controls who didn’t do any exercise.
Boosts Immune Functions
A recent study found that walking can help reduce the frequency of infection and boost immunity, even in sedentary adults with rheumatoid arthritis. The study, conducted at Duke University School of Medicine, followed twelve sedentary adults with stable rheumatoid arthritis.
The study participants were asked to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes, three times a week, for 10 weeks. After completing the study, the participants showed improved immune function and a reduced risk of infection.
Improves Gastrointestinal Function
Apart from maintaining good food habits and drinking water, you should also walk to improve your gastrointestinal function.
Research has demonstrated that light exercise can help to prevent gastrointestinal disorders by improving the movement of the digestive system and the circulation of blood in the digestive tract. However, there is not much evidence available on whether or not this type of exercise is effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.
Walking can help reduce stress in several ways. First, it improves circulation, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Additionally, walking stimulates the nervous system receptors and decreases the production of stress hormones.
The researchers found that a combined approach of walking, resting, and balneotherapy was effective in reducing stress levels.
Walking for 30 minutes a day
Try to walk for at least 30 minutes every week at a pace where you can still talk, but not sing.
Building physical activity into your life
Even if it’s tough to walk for a half hour at once, you can do shorter sessions (10 minutes) three times a day, and eventually work up to longer amounts of time. If you want to lose weight, though, you need to do physical activity for more than 30 minutes every day. You can still gradually increase your activity levels throughout the day if that’s too difficult at first.
It’s easier to start exercising when it’s part of your normal routine. One of the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off is to make physical activity part of your daily routine. It’s easier to start exercising when it’s part of your normal routine.
Some suggestions to build walking into your daily routine include:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way).
- Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
- Walk (don’t drive) to the local shops.
- Walk the dog (or your neighbour’s dog).
Make walking part of your routine
Create a routine by walking at the same time each day. You’ll be more successful if you ask someone to walk with you, and make a note of it in your activity diary.
Wearing a pedometer while walking
A pedometer is a device that counts the number of steps you take. By tracking your steps over time, you can use a pedometer to gauge your level of activity and compare it to other days or to recommended amounts. This can help motivate you to be more active. The recommended number of steps to accumulate each day in order to achieve health benefits is 10,000 steps or more.
A comfortable intensity for walking
The amount of energy used by walking and running a kilometer is relatively the same, the main difference is time. If you want to increase your fitness, walk a set distance each day and monitor how long it takes you. Eventually, you will be able to walk further distances in the same amount of time.
It is more effective to walk quickly if you want to burn more kilojoules per hour, but this does not mean you should pushing yourself to the point where you can’t breathe. It is better to maintain a pace where you can still hold a conversation. This will help ensure you stay within your target heart rate, and attain health benefits.
Our bodies tend to get used to physical activity, so continue to increase your intensity as you are able to improve your fitness levels. You can increase the intensity of your walks by:
- walking up hills
- walking with hand weights
- increasing your walking speed gradually by including some quick walking
- increasing the distance you walk quickly before returning to a moderate walking pace
- walking for longer.
Warming up and cooling down after walking
To warm up, walk slowly at first and then pick up the pace. Afterward, stretch your leg muscles gently for 20 seconds. If you feel any pain, ease off the stretch.
You should dress in light clothing when you are physically active. Heavy clothing can make you sweat more and increase your body temperature, which can make you uncomfortable during a walk or cause skin irritation. If you cool down gradually, you can prevent muscle stiffness and injury.
Footwear for walking
If you want to walk as a form of exercise, it is important to make sure you have comfortable shoes with good heel and arch support. You should also take light steps and land on your heel before your toes. Walking on grass instead of concrete can also help reduce impact.
Making walking a pleasure
Some suggestions to help make regular walking a pleasurable form of physical activity include:
- varying where you walk
- walking the dog
- walking with friends
- joining a walking club.
Making walking interesting
Ways to keep your daily walk interesting include:
- If you want to stick close to home and limit your walking to neighborhood streets, pick different routes so you don’t get tired of seeing the same sights.
- If you feel unsafe walking alone, find one or more friends or family members to walk with.
- Walk at various times of the day. The sights to see first thing in the morning are bound to be different from those of the afternoon or early evening.
- Drive to different reserves, park the car and enjoy the views while you walk.
- Explore what’s going on around you, and notice the sky, the people, the sounds.
If you need motivation to walk every day, consider getting a dog that needs regular exercise. You might also like the companionship. If you don’t have a dog and don’t want to get one, you could walk your neighbor’s dog from time to time.
Suggestions for the safety of your dog and other people on foot include:
- Be considerate of other pedestrians and always keep your dog on its leash.
- If you plan to walk in a park, check first to see if dogs are permitted. Many national and state parks and other conservation reserves do not permit dogs.
- Other parks generally permit dog walking on a leash. Many parks allow dogs off the leash – check with your local council.
- Always take equipment such as plastic bags and gloves to clean up after your dog.
Walking with others
Walking with other people can turn a bout of exercise into an enjoyable social occasion. Suggestions include:
- Schedule a regular family walk – this is a great way to pass on healthy habits to your children or grandchildren, and to spend time together while getting fit at the same time.
- If you are walking with children, make sure the route and length of time spent walking are appropriate to their age.
- Babies and toddlers enjoy long walks in the pram. Take the opportunity to point out items of interest to young ones, such as vehicles, flowers and other pedestrians.
- Look for the self-guided nature walks that have been set up in many parks. Younger children enjoy looking for the next numbered post; older ones can learn about the plants and animals of the park, and perhaps take photos or record their experience in other ways.
- Ask neighbors or friends if they would like to join you on your walks. Think of starting a walking group.
Safety suggestions while walking
Walking is generally a safe way to exercise, but look out for unexpected hazards. Suggestions include:
- See your doctor for a medical check-up before starting a new fitness program, particularly if you are aged over 40 years, are overweight, or haven’t exercised in a long time.
- Choose walks that suit your age and fitness level. Warm-up and cool down with a slow, gentle walk to ease in and out of your exercise session.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and appropriate footwear to avoid blisters and shin splints.
- Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, long sleeves, and a hat to avoid sunburn.
- Take waterproof clothing to avoid getting wet if it rains.
- Carry a walking stick or umbrella to fend off unleashed, unfriendly dogs.
- Before bushwalking, check the weather forecast and take appropriate safety measures (for example, packing correct clothing).
- Look out for hazards in alpine or coastal areas, such as cliff edges or large waves.
- Drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk. If you are taking a long walk, take water with you.