Walking is one of the best activities you could add to your exercise regimen, hands down. In part, this is because it is one of the safest ways to exercise, as it is relatively low impact and low risk. The difference in wear and tear on your lower legs between walking and running is quite significant. For people just starting out as well as for for older folks, walking is a great way to start exercising in a manner that is both gentle and sustainable.
Studies on walking have shown that a half hour walk each day can lower your risk of adult onset diabetes. Because walking is cardiovascular exercise, it lowers the blood pressure, raises the amount of HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind) and ultimately
reduces your risk of having a heart attack. It is also recommended to lower the risk of stroke, arthritis, bone loss, and depression.
Walking can also play a role in weight loss. For those who want to lower their body fat, or control their weight, walking several times each week is an easy way to do just that.
Walking strengthens muscles and builds up the bones that they attach to. Women who walk reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis. Because walking strengthens the muscles around bones, it can also help ease arthritis pain. To build muscle through walking, vary your course, adding in hills or increasing speed. For the best effect, you want to walk quickly enough to increase your heart rate and breathing, but not so fast that you can’t talk.
As with any kind of exercise, it is important to stretch your body out before and after you walk. Don’t forget your upper body- your arms, shoulders and back are all involved too! Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.