Walking your Way to Good Health

Posted on 06. Jun, 2013 by in Fitness

You don’t need to go to the gym to get some exercise, nor do you need to buy expensive equipment. All you need is a pair of shoes and some time in your hands.

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. Regular walking can help you lose body fat, maintain a healthy weight, improve your fitness and reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

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Walking at a steady pace for 30 to 45 minutes a day has been proven to be an excellent fat burner. Do this six times a week, along with following a healthy diet, and you will see a change in your weight. A good speed of walking is 6km/hour. In other words, it should take you 10 minutes to cover a kilometer.

If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions. If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can achieve this by starting with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day and increasing these to sessions of more than 30 minutes as your fitness improves.

Physical Benefits of Walking

Walking is good for the heart. Walking regularly can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which contribute to heart disease.

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Not only that, it helps strengthens bones and joints. Walking is easier on your joints than higher-impact activities like running or aerobics, but it still helps reduce your risk for osteoporosis and reduces your risk of falls.

Walking may seem like a leisurely activity, but with the right intensity, it can elevate your heart rate and burn serious calories so you can reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Mental Benefits of Walking

Walking may seem like only a physical activity, but did you know that it also helps you mentally?

Walking aids to slow mental decline. 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. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17-percent decline in memory, as opposed to a 25-percent decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.

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Walking also helps lowers Alzheimer’s risk. 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.

Did you know that walking also improves sleep patterns? 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.

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Having a bad day? Walking will help lighten up your mood. Research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking 30 minutes a day boosted the moods in depressed patients faster than antidepressants. Why? Walking releases natural pain-­killing end­or­phins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were.

You can also use walking as a form of meditation. An outdoor stroll can help erase a bad day as you instead start to focus on the surrounding environment.

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