Lace up your shoes and get ready to hit the street for one of the easiest, simplest forms of exercise you can do—walking. Walking is affordable, and doesn’t require any special tools to help you get healthy and enjoy lasting benefits that go far beyond looking good. As with any exercise program, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you have a walking buddy or partner to help you stay inspired and keep you on track; stick with it and you’ll gain rewards shown to effect not just your waistline, but also your mental and emotional well-being.
Health experts recommend a goal of 10,000 steps per day, many of which can be attained with a two mile (or about 40 minute) walk and everyday activities will make up the rest of your required steps.
Walking benefits your body in a variety of ways:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen your bones
- Lift your mood
- Improve your balance and coordination
Heart health: Heart disease is a leading killer in the United States. Walking at a rate that gets your heart beating more quickly and your blood pumping helps improve heart health, build stamina and keep blood pressure under control.
Improving your risk for Type 2 diabetes: Studies show people with insulin resistance who engaged in brisk walking several times per week improved their body’s ability to absorb and use insulin properly—keeping blood sugar levels in check and reducing the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Stress reduction: Moderate exercise such as walking triggers the release of stress-busting chemicals called endorphins. These happy hormones can leave you feeling energized and more focused after a workout.
Moderate walking means taking about 100 steps per minute, 1,000 steps in 10 minutes and 3,000 steps in 30 minutes. Until you get familiar with your pace, try using a pedometer to keep track of your progress. If you don’t have a pedometer on hand you can download a great app for free! We recommend iMap my walk- MapMyFitness has apps for walkers, runners, hikers and more. Many of them have a free version. All of them allow you to map and measure your route, see your speed and calories burned, and save and share your routes.