There’s a lot of reasons people in Massachusetts, don’t walk as much as they used to walk. Life is busy, walking by yourself can be dangerous and it’s just too easy to hop in the car. There are benefits of walking that most people don’t realize. Besides getting the opportunity to enjoy the beauty around you, walking can relieve stress and help you relax. Almost everyone can take a walk and there’s no equipment necessary. Best of all, you can modify your walk to suit your fitness level. If you can only walk a block, do that every day. Eventually, you’ll walk two, then three and more blocks.
Walking is heart healthy.
If you want to be kind to your heart, make it work hard, but not all the time. Walking, particularly at higher speeds, provides aerobic exercise that makes your heart work harder. If you want to make it more effective, alternate your speed and intensity. For a few minutes, walk at high intensity and then switch to a recovery pace for the same length of time or longer. Alternate between the two speeds and you’ll have a HIIT—high intensity interval training—workout that’s even more heart healthy than traditional walking. If you can’t walk for a full hour every day, break up your walks into several five, ten or fifteen minute sessions.
Do you want to lose weight, just put one foot in front of the other.
Walking can be the starting point on your road to fitness. It can help you build the stamina for a full program of fitness and aid in weight loss. Obesity is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Walking helps burn calories and build lower body strength. The more calories you burn, the faster you lose weight and the lower your risk is for high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
You’ll boost your brain power with walking.
Anything that increases circulation can help improve brain health. Walking does that. It increases the oxygen and brain nutrients, while also lowering your LDL cholesterol, which can cause clogged arteries and stroke. Research shows that both diet and daily exercise can help reduce the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, improve dementia and help reduce the symptoms of depression.
- Walking is also a weight bearing exercise. Weight bearing exercises, can help prevent calcium from leaching from the bone, which causes osteoporosis.
- If you have bad joints or are excessively overweight, walking may be better for you than running. It doesn’t tax the joints as much, since there’s no pounding motion like running.
- Walking improves the immune system, aids digestion and helps regulate glucose levels. It can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
- Make sure you have correct posture when you walk. Keep your head held high and swing your arms freely as you walk. Wear comfortable clothing, including shoes made for walking.
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